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U . S . A. 


A Treatise 
on Plows 
and plowing 


Published by 
Oliver Chilled PlowVorks 

South Bond, IncL 



'HE treatment of any farmer's 
soil is entirely within his hands. 
Success is measured by his 
knowledge and the diligence with which 
he applies those laws of Nature which are 
related to crop growing. 

These laws are universal. A farmer 
can apply them to meet his own partic- 
ular need better than acting upon the ad- 
vice anyone can give him, because he 
understands his soil conditions. Other 
people do not. 

The purpose of this book is to set 
forth these laws and explain the causes 
and effects. 

The Oliver Chilled Plow Works has a 
desire to be of practical value to farmers. 
Our long experience in building plows and 
kindred implements for use all over the 
world has given us an opportunity to ob- 
serve a great many facts in connection 
with plows and plowing which should be 
common knowledge among farmers. 



Chapter Page 

I. Functions of the Plant Organs 5 

II. Influence of Water 14 

III. Importance of Air in the Soil 27 

IV. Soil Temperature 32 

V. Why Soils Must Be Handled Differently 37 

VI. Depth of Plowing 51 

VII. When to Plow 63 

VIII. Plowing to Kill Insects 72 

IX. Plowing to Kill Weeds 79 

X. Plowing Under Green Manure 87 

XI. Judging Plowing 92 

XII. Plow Bottoms 97 

XIII. Plow Bottom Metals 129 

XIV. Scouring Troubles 137 

XV. Setting the Share on the Plow 1 49 

XVI. Sharpening Soft Center Steel Shares. ... 154 

XVII. Sharpening Crucible Steel Shares 158 

XVIII. Sharpening Chilled Shares 159 

XIX. The Rolling Coulter 160 

The Jointer 

The Combined Rolling Coulter and 

XX. The Tractor Plow Hitch 167 

XXI. Adjusting Horse Plows 183 

XXII. Middle Breakers 189 

XXIII. Disk Plows.. 195 


Functions of the Plant Organs 

' I "HERE is a vast difference between operating a farm 
* and a factory. The process of manufacture from the 
receiving of the crude materials to the finished product 
is entirely in the hands of the manufacturer. That is, 
he can control every step in any process from start to 
finish. It is not so with the farmer. The farmer can 
control only the operation of the machinery. He has 
to have a partner to enable him to successfully grow 
crops. That partner is mother Earth. He has to 
depend upon her for everything except the labor, which 
is his part of the contract. 

Obviously the farmer who succeeds best must under- 
stand Nature. It is a hopeless task to learn all the 
whims and caprices of Nature, but it is possible to learn 
how to treat mother Earth so that she can use these 
whims and caprices of Nature to bring forth bountifully. 

The first step in this process is plowing. Many 
important historical events offer the strongest evidence 
that from the time man first began to till the soil he 
discovered the necessity for stirring it in some manner 
before any kind of a crop could be grown. Even the 
greatest authors of antiquity, medieval and modern 
times, speak of plowing. We have Benjamin Franklin 
in our own colonial times who advised farmers "to plow 
deep while sluggards sleep and you will have corn to sell 
and keep." Pliny spoke in his treatise on agriculture, 


of the importance of having the ground properly pre- 
pared, and even in the New Testament, in the book of 
St. Luke, the parable of the sower forcibly illustrates 
that Christ was a keen observer of the laws of Nature 
as related to crop growing. 

"A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he 
sowed some fell by the way side; and it was trodden 
down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 

And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was 
sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked 

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns 
sprang up with it, and choked it. 

And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, 
and bare fruit a hundredfold." 

This quality to observe conditions as they are is just 
as fundamental to the business success of any man as 
it is for his religious welfare. There is not such a 
tremendous amount of difference. 

Evidently farmers in Christ's time believed that it 
was necessary to kill the thorns and to conserve moisture, 
and they believed still more that it was necessary to 
have the ground "good." This word "good" involves 
a great deal. Our modern soil phycisists tell us that we 
plow to kill weeds, conserve moisture, and to put the 
ground in a good condition of tilth. By tilth they 
mean that the land is in shape to be cultivated easily 
and in such condition as to bring forth abundantly. 

Before one can put ground in condition to meet plant 
growth requirements he must have a thorough under- 
standing of the habits and characteristics of plants he 
desires to grow, the kind of food that plants require and 



A fully matured corn 
plant showing the parts 
that have to do with the 
growth of the plant. 
Observe the short root 
system compared with 
the network f roots of 
the four hills of growing 
corn illustrated on page 



the soil conditions necessary for the manufacture, 
maintenance and proper distribution of that food to the 
plants as they need it. 

Botanists tell us that every part of the plant has 
functions which it performs for its own development. 
The functioning of the various organs of the plant is 
naturally very different from that of the animal, never- 
theless, these organs are just as important to the plant 
as the digestive and breathing organs are to the animal. 
The greatest of care is exercised in feeding the stock. 
The proper amount of food and water is given to the 
animals at the right time. In the summer the green 
pastures supply the great percentage of food for cows. 
In the winter they are given foods which produce milk 
and flesh. If horses are being used in the field they are 
fed the kind of food that keeps them strong and healthy. 
The same rule holds true of the entire animal family. 
No two types of animals ever receive the same kind of 
food nor even the same portion; that has to be given 
according to their kind. The same feeding law holds 
true of plants. 

Plant life is different from animal life. The animal 
is either fed by human hands or goes about searching 
its own food. The plant is stationary. It, therefore, 
must subsist upon the food contained in the air and 
soil within reach of its organs. 

All crop producing plants have roots, stems, leaves, 
and flowers, or the fruit. The farmer is concerned as 
to the quality and quantity of fruit produced. The 
quality and quantity of fruit are determined by the 
growth of the leaf and stem, and also the plant's ability 
to withstand the evil influences of wind, drouth and 
excessive rainfall. 


The seed of any plant is supposed to contain enough 
nourishment for growth until the roots are large enough 
to drink in their nourishment from the surrounding soil, 
and the stem to break through the top of the ground to 
breathe in the required air. 

The roots are the organs that search out into every 
particle and recess of the soil within reach for plant 
food, and carry it to the stem. 

The most important part of the crop growing opera- 
tion consists in bringing about a soil condition whereby 
the seed can germinate according to its natural inclina- 
tion and the plant produce a root system necessary for 
vigorous growth and flowering. 

The little kernels in the wheat illustration were 
sprouted to show how little and tender are the roots 
of germinating seeds. 

Four kernels of sprouted wheat. The two outside ^ernc/s would 
sustain the plant until the roots and stems could feed themselves. The 
two inside plants were weak seeds. The seeds are entirely consumed, 
and the young plants are not large enough to support themselves. 


It is important that a seed bed be in a well pulverized, 
compact condition for the sprouting of seeds and grow- 
ing of plants. The little kernels of wheat must sprout 
and grow, but before they can do it the plant food must 
be in the soil in available form for the little tender 
roots to feed upon. Observe the sprouts running up 
and the little roots going downward. One pinch of the 
root with the fingers would kill it, yet, it is supposed to 
grow and produce tenfold times. There is food enough 
within the kernel, if it is good seed, to nourish the grow- 
ing plant for a short time, but after that it must reach 
out into the soil to find sustenance, and if that plant 
grows rapidly it must have the food within convenient 
reach just when it needs it. This is the great reason 
why the preparation of the seed bed is the most im- 
portant part of the crop growing operation. It matters 
not how good the seed, if the soil is not in the right con- 
dition to make plant food available to nourish the 
starting plant, growth will be stunted. Pulverizing the 
ground when plowing is the first and most vital step to 
accomplish this end 

There is another reason why a compact seed bed is 
necessary. After the seed has sprouted, and the plant 
has acquired its growth, more food is necessary for the 
flowering of the grain. The roots are searching through 
the ground by means of their continued growth to find 
this food. The better the seed bed is pulverized, the 
more available food the roots find. They form a net- 
work of food seekers entirely occupying the ground from 
one plant to another. 

The corn field illustration, in which the rain has washed 
away the earth from the roots, shows the interweaving 
of the root system of corn. Each of the little hair 


roots drinks in its share of food for the plants. When 
we consider that plants are soup eaters, that is, all the 
food the roots absorb is taken in liquid form, the im- 
portance of having the best possible seed bed from top 
to bottom is obvious. 

When the rain washed away the earth it generously left the corn roots 
in much the same position as they would be found if it were possible to 
look, into the earth. 

A study of this illustration shows how easy it is to break these roots 
by cultivation. Recognizing that roots are necessary for absorbing (he 
food contained in the soil, the importance of protecting this root system 
and giving it every opportunity becomes apparent. 

The stems are the conveyors of this food to the leaves 
and the flowers and also serve the important purpose of 
holding up the flowers and leaves from the ground to 
give them an opportunity to do their work. 

The leaf has four principal functions to perform. It 
has to do with the starch making properties of the plant, 


the assimilation, the excretion of water, and breathing. 
The functions of the leaves in these four processes in- 
volve a very complicated chemical process which is not 
very thoroughly understood and does not need to be 
from a practical standpoint. 

The only thing necessary to know is that a plant, to 
flower and produce the proper grain, must have an 
abundance of moisture in order that the sunlight and 
air may supply the proper gases and heat necessary to 
bring about these chemical changes. The task of the 
farmer is to see that air, water and the proper plant food 
elements are properly proportioned in the soil. He need 
not worry about the part that surface air plays in the 
growing of the plants because it is beyond his control. 
Nature always supplies it abundantly on and above the 
earth's surface. To be of the utmost value air must be 
permitted to permeate every particle of the seed bed. 

The tiller of the soil must see that the proper amount 
of plant food is supplied during the plant's life so that 
the entire plant can perform its functions. He must 
not forget also that a plant, even as any animal, can 
gorge itself so that one part of it will grow to the detri- 
ment of another. 

The plant may be considered in part as its own food 
manufacturing establishment; that is, certain of the food 
elements coming from the soil are mingled with the 
gases which come through the leaves in such a way as to 
form the starchy substances of the plants. It is vitally 
necessary, therefore, that both the soil and air supply 
the proper elements for these processes to take place in 
the plant. 

The amount of plant food contained in water is very 
small, hence, the plant must consume an immense 


amount of water to derive the sustenance necessary. A 
grass plant has been found to give off its own weight in 
water every twenty-four hours in hot, dry summer 
weather. This would make about 6J/2 tons of water per 
acre for every twenty-four hours in ordinary grain fields. 
This proves that moisture is one of the most essential 
items for producing plant growth and must be properly 

Botanists maintain that 95 to 97 per cent, of all the 
materials from which Nature builds the tissues of her 
plants are taken from the air. It is important, then, 
that we know by what process the materials from the 
air are transformed into plant food, particularly that 
part of the process which Nature depends upon tillage 
and the soil to perform. 

Nature furnishes the moisture, air, light and soil. 
She expects us to till the soil in order that she may use 
the moisture, air, light and soil to the best advantage in 
transforming materials into plant food for growing 
crops. She rewards bountifully those who work with 
her, and she recompenses poorly those who do not. 

Working with Nature means a knowledge of the effect 
of moisture, air, light and heat upon the soil and apply- 
ing that knowledge in a practical manner. 


Influence of Water 

WATER is the greatest single factor in plant growth. 
It seldom rains at just exactly the right time for its 
use. The task is to keep this moisture where it can be uti- 
lized by the growing plants just as rapidly as they need 
it. Before this can be done successfully one must have a 
knowledge of the characteristics of the different types 
of soils, their capacity for holding moisture and the 
rapidity with which it percolates and evaporates, also 
the things that are necessary to permit moisture to sink 
into the ground and keep it from escaping. 

Water is the solvent of mineral elements in the soil 
which nourish the plant, and since plants can absorb 
mineral salts only in solution, water is absolutely nec- 
essary to enable the plant to take nourishment from the 

Water is the means whereby plant food elements are 
transformed into plant food because without it there 
can be no chemical action or reaction to transform the 
elements into plant food. Water also holds in solution 
food for the plant, carries it from the hair roots to the 
stem, and from the stem to the places where growth is 
taking place, transports plant food from one place to 
another in the soil, and is a temperature regulator for 
the soil. 

From 75% to 90% of the fresh substance in crops is 
water, thus water in itself is plant food and essential to 


plant life. The greater part of this per cent, enters the 
plants through the roots. 

The 75% to 90% of water making the fresh substance 
of plants is water in plant composition, and can only be 
taken from the plants by excessive heat. However, 
this water in composition is dependent upon the 
amount of moisture contained in the soil and the humid- 
ity of the atmosphere because the growth of the plant is 
retarded or advanced as the amount of moisture in the 
soil is available. This moisture in turn is controlled 
more by the soil than the atmospheric temperature. 
Hence, it is necessary to have moisture in the ground in 
the right proportion for regulating the heat to retard the 
process of evaporation as well as to promote the develop- 
ment of plant food. 

It is impossible to definitely define what amount of 
moisture is required for the growth of a plant because a 
great many conditions enter. A crop may require 300 
tons of water for growth to maturity. It may be nec- 
essary for the soil to furnish 350 tons on account of 
varying conditions. Some the farmer can control, 
others he cannot. Water that must be supplied for the 
growing crops includes that which is constantly evapor- 
ating from the ground and also that which the leaf and 
stem of the plant are giving off. 

The amount of plant food in water is very small; that 
is, the solution is in a very diluted form. For this 
reason a plant consumes many times its weight in water 
to get the necessary food. 

The principal factor which determines the water 
requirements of a plant is the humidity of the atmos- 
phere. In climates where the atmosphere is moist the 
water requirements for the plants are much less than 


those in dry climates. The reason for this is the amount 
of evaporation from the leaves and stems. The more 
humid the atmosphere the less moisture it takes from 
the plants, the dryer the atmosphere the more moisture 
it draws from the plants. If the atmosphere were 
thoroughly saturated at all times the water require- 
ments for the plants would be very small because of the 
light transpiration of water from the soil. 

Another peculiar fact in connection with the water 
required is shade. Shade increases the amount of 
water required for plant growth. It retards the 
process by which the plant constructs its tissues because 
the rays of sunlight necessary for this process are dimin- 

Soil fertility has a great deal to do with the amount 
of moisture required to grow a crop. A poor soil requires 
more water than a rich soil for the simple reason that 
the more fertility there is in the soil the stronger the 
water holding content. A soil may be fertile in all the 
elements but one. The lack of this one causes the soil 
to require more moisture because growth is retarded 
when a plant fails to get any one of the elements neces- 
sary. The plant keeps on using and giving off water 
exactly the same as though all the elements were in the 

The great problem is to catch and save as much of the 
rainfall as pdssible. The ground below the seed bed 
must act as a reservoir to hold enough water for it to 
come upward by capillary attraction to the root bed 
and not escape into the air. 

Capillary water is that which adheres or clings to the 
surface of the soil grains and to the roots of plants in 
films thick enough to allow surface tension to move it 


from place to place. It is Nature's means of keeping a 
constant supply where plants can use it. Capillary water 
is the chief source from which plants derive their supply. 
So important is capillary water that crops grown on 
moderately fertile plots where water was supplied as 
fast as plants could utilize it, produced more than four 
times as much as the same crop grown in an adjacent 
field under ordinary conditions. The reason for this is 
simply that during all the growing period rains do not 
come at the right times. This naturally prevents the 
plant food from becoming available every day as the 
growing plants demand. It is like stuffing a boy one 
day and expecting him not to get hungry for a week. 
Feed the boy what he needs each day, and he grows into 
a strong man. So it is with plants. 


The picture (A) of the tube filled with fine soil particles 
with the clods in the center illustrates very common 
conditions in plowed ground. The clods in the center 
prevent capillarity between the upper and lower portion 
of finely pulverized soil. Consequently, the moisture 



from below cannot reach the pulverized soil above the 
clods any faster than the rays of light and heat evaporate 
from above. This is plainly noticeable in the views 
showing the water at different heights in the tubes. 

In illustration B observe that the water has traveled 
upward in the tube to a level much higher than the 
water in the pan, showing the force of capillary action. 
Also observe the firmly compact condition of the earth 
as far as the water has traveled. 

This is the way plowing is generally done. The large air spaces at 
the bottom of the first furrow slice and the smaller one in the bottom of 
the third are often found in fields that have been harrowed and are sup- 
posed to be ready for planting. These air spaces interfere with the 
upward trend of capillarity just exactly as is shown in the tubes on page 

The sectional view of plowed ground in the illustration 
above shows very much the same condition as shown 
in the tube. 


In illustration C the water has reached the bottom of 
the cloddy portion. The uneven edge shows that where 
the soil particles are compact the water climbs upward, 
thus illustrating an important characteristic of capil- 
larity. Too many air spaces in the cloddy ground 
break up the capillarity so that water will not climb as 
rapidly or as effectively and abundantly as it does in 
soil finely compacted. Two hours were required for 
the water to rise from the bottom of the tube to the 
cloddy portion. 

Illustration D is the same tube photographed 22 hours 
later. Observe that the soil is thoroughly permeated 
with water up to the cloddy portion, that the moisture 
in the cloddy part and the pulverized part above the 
clods is very slight, and that on top no moisture is to be 
discerned. This shows that moisture does not rise to 
the surface of the ground any faster than it is evaporated. 
If this tube contained a plant above the cloddy part it 
would be plainly evident that the amount of moisture 
the roots could secure would not be enough to promote 
the healthy growth of the plant. Therefore, it is very 
important that this cloddy condition does not exist at 
the bottom of the seed bed as much on account of 
moisture as heat and air. 

Film water displays itself only upon the surface of the 
soil grain. That is why it is called film water. It 
forms a film around the grain. Anyone can easily 
satisfy himself as to the truth of this, by taking a 
marble and immersing it in a glass of water, then with- 
drawing it. All the water required to form the film will 
cling to the marble and the rest will drop off. Suppose 
that marble is one inch in diameter. It will fill a cube 
one inch square that is, six points on the surface of the 


marble will touch six points of the cube and all the rest 
of the space between the cube and the surface of the 
marble is air space. The area of the surface of the 
marble is found by multiplying the diameter squared by 
3.1416, making 3.1416 square inches of film surface for 
the water. This is the amount of the film surface dis- 

A cube one inch square will hold 1 ,000 marbles one- 
tenth of an inch in diameter. The square inch of surface 
of each marble one-tenth of an inch in diameter is one 
hundredth of what it is on the large marble, or .031416 
of an inch. This multiplied by 1 ,000, the number of 
marbles of this diameter required to fill the cube, makes 
31.416 square inches of film surface, in contrast with the 
3.1416 displayed in the one marble. Thus, if you take 
the 1 ,000 marbles in the cube immersing them in water, 
and withdrawing them as you would the large marble, 
you would have 31.4+ square inches of surface holding 
water, against 3.1+ square inches on the large marble. 
This means that the air spaces have been diminished in 
size and the water holding content of the soil increased, 
proving that the finer the soil is broken up, the greater 
water-holding capacity it has, consequently, the break- 
ing of the soil into fine particles is necessary to improve 
it for water holding content. For this reason the 
ground should be well pulverized when plowing. 

It is further evident, from the marble illustration, that 
the size of the soil particles has everything to do with 
the water holding content. As an illustration of the 
capacities of different soils, for capillary attraction and 
for holding water, samples of clay, clay loam, loam, 
sandy loam, and loamy sand were placed in the tubes 
under the names, small clods being placed on top of the 



Dipping a marble into a 
glass of water as shown in 
this illustration will con- 
vince anyone that surplus 
water will not cling to the 
marble when it is removed. 
Enough water should be 
supplied in the soil so that 
a film of water surrounds 
the soil grains. 

7 he six points of contact 
leave large air spaces which 
retard capillary attraction 
and permit an excessive 
amount of air and heat to 
evaporate what little moist- 
ure may be in cloddy 

The thousand marbles 
make six thousand points 
of contact thus showing how 
much easier it is for moist- 
ure to travel upward by 
capillarity, the increased 
surface for holding film 
Water and diminished air 


finely pulverized soil. Clay has the smallest soil particles ; 
clay loam the next larger, loam larger than clay loam; 
sandy loam larger than loam; and loamy sand larger than 
sandy loam. This pan was filled with water, giving it 
an opportunity to rise in the tubes by capillarity. 

The five samples of soil in these tubes were taken from the same farm. 
They are shown on pages 39, 41, 43, 45 and 47. At the top of each tube 
is a granular mulch. The particles of earth are much coarser than those 
of the finely compacted earth below. These tubes are eight inches high 
and two inches in diameter. The earth was packed in each tube to bring 
about an ideal condition for capillary attraction to act. The soil was 
also placed in an ideal condition for germination of the seed and the 
growth of the plant. The surface was not. Do not fail to observe the 
effect of this granular mulch in the illustration on page twenty-four. 

The illustration at the top of page twenty-three 
shows the water is almost halfway to the top of 
the finely pulverized earth in the tube of the loamy 
sand; has a good start in the sandy loam; is just 
beginning in the loam; is hardly perceptible in the clay 
loam, and not at all in the clay. Thus, we observe that 
up to this period capillary attraction is faster in the 
sandy soils than the clay, and that the loam is about 
midway between. 

The second illustration on page twenty-three shows 
the water in the tube filled with clay has just started 



while that in the loamy sand tube has almost reached 
the top. The clay loam, loam, and sandy loam are still 
drawing water in about the same proportion as shown 
in the previous illustration. 

The illustration on page twenty-four shows the 
water in the tube filled with loamy sand has reached 
the cloddy portion, while that in the clay tube 
has gone about one-fifth of the way to the top of the 
tube. The water in the other three is still climbing in 
the same proportion, thus showing conclusively that the 
finer the soil particles are, the slower the water rises. 



Another feature that must be taken into serious con- 
sideration is that soils, in which water rises rapidly, dry 
out equally fast, thus the sandy soils dry out much 
quicker than the clay soils, all of which goes to show that 
the finer the soil particles are, the stronger the attrac- 
tion to hold the water. 

Compare the water in the loamy sand and clay tubes illustrated on 
page twenty-three with those illustrated above. The granular mulch on top 
the tube of loamy sand stopped the upward trend of moisture as the 
distance the water in the clay tube has travelled upward shows. The 
moisture in the loamy sand tube has climbed from a point just below the 
wire to the granular mulch while the water in the clay tube travelled 
twice as far as it had, thus showing that the granular mulch stopped the 
upward trend of moisture. This illustration serves to show the import- 
ance of keeping the soil particles on the surface in an entirely different 
arrangement from those below in order that capillary attraction may be 
permitted to act up to this point and then stopped, thus peeping the 
moisture in the ground. 

Observe further the soil at the top of the tube filled 
with loamy sand; that the water has not penetrated the 
clods to any appreciable extent. Bearing in mind the 
illustration of the tube with the clods in the center, it 
will be observed that a granular surface on top is better 
to prevent moisture from escaping into the air than the 
finely pulverized soil. The reason for this is simply 
that capillarity has been broken up between the com- 


pact sub-surface and the granulated top. For this reason 
it is better to have the lower portion of the soil compact 
and the layer on the surface coarse and granular than to 
have it all finely pulverized. 

When a farmer desires to plant a field infested with 
cutworms, grubworms, wireworms, or some other pest 
which can be eradicated by plowing, he wants to know 
whether it is best to plow for the express purpose of kill- 
ing the insects, for the conservation of moisture, or at a 
time of the year when plowing can be easier done. He 
must decide which is the most important and plow ac- 
cordingly. The number of times that one would run 
into difficulty with moisture when plowing to kill insect 
pests would be very few because the ideal time to plow 
to kill insect pests is during their larva state, which for 
the most part is in the fall of the year. 

If one plans on plowing sod with the expectation of 
growing a crop it is better to fall plow for the moisture 
conservation process and also for the killing of insect 
pests. The small profit that may be made in pasturing 
such fields is much less than the total accruing from 
plowing in the fall previous to planting. This has been dem- 
onstrated sufficiently to be stated as a fundamental fact. 

If one studies carefully the conditions mentioned it is 
evident that the damage done during dry periods can 
be minimized by having the soil kept in the proper 
physical condition by the right kind of tillage to save 
moisture for use at this time. 

From the foregoing it is obvious that soil moisture 
very often determines whether a yield will be large or 
small. The same needs for moisture are present, 
north, east, south and west, and the same laws for con- 


serving must be applied. The degree to which this 
conservation must be practiced is determined solely by 
the amount of moisture contained in the soil. In the 
more humid districts it may be only necessary to adopt 
a system for conserving the rains of summer and fall; 
whereas, in the dryer territories it may be necessary to 
practice a system of summer fallowing for an entire year 
before enough moisture can be saved to insure a crop. 
The big thing to remember is that moisture must be 
present when the plants need it. 

Those farms underlaid with clay soils are easier to till 
for conserving moisture for future use than those which 
have an endless depth of sand or gravel. If the sub-soil 
is of such a nature that it will not hold moisture within 
the distance which capillary attraction operates, the 
problems are extremely difficult and almost beyond 
control unless the soil is kept chock full of humus at a 
depth deep enough to prevent surface heat from evapor- 
ating the moisture. 


Importance of Air in the Soil 

WATER, heat and oxygen are necessary for the 
germination of seeds. Oxygen must come from the 
air, hence it is necessary, in the preparation of the 
seed bed, to leave the ground in condition for the cir- 
culation of air. 

In view of the fact that seeds must germinate before 
the plants can grow, the nearer the oxygen and moisture 
are in the right proportion in the ground, the more 
rapid will be the germination and growth of the plant. 

In the development of plant food for growing plants 
the elements that go to make nitrates are largely con- 
fined to the first few feet of surface soil. If the soil is 
loose enough to allow access of air, nitrification is more 
rapid, hence plant growth is more rapid. It obviously 
follows then that plowing and cultivating are necessary 
for the development of plant food. 

Air is also necessary to keep the ground in condition 
for the retention of plant food after it has reached the 
nitrate form. The roots of plants need oxygen in the 
process of growing. Energy is required. The roots 
penetrating through the ground absorb the oxygen and 
thus acquire the needed energy for the work of pushing 
the soil particles to one side. 

Nitrogen, in the form of nitric acid, is the most im- 
portant of all plant food elements. Oxygen gives life 
or activity to prevent destruction of nitrates after they 
have once been made. Wet soils, rich in organic 



matter, often give off more free nitrogen than is used in 
forming the nitrates in them. Thus they become 
depleted on account of too much water and not enough 
oxygen. Too much oxygen in the soil burns up the 
fertility and has a tendency to form clods. 

Seeds will not germinate in ground from which oxygen 
has been completely excluded; neither will growth take 
place. Water, completely filling pore spaces, excludes 
oxygen. This is another way of saying that plants drown. 
The human being drowns because oxygen is excluded 
from the lungs; so do plants. Compact earth prevents 

This illustration shows a soil that had been covered with water for a 
long time. The excessive air spaces caused by these cracks are due to 
the shrinking of the soil particles after the swelling caused by the water. 
It is easy to see that the cracks penetrate deeply thus causing the air and 
heat of the sun to evaporate the moisture from a great depth. 

circulation of air and creates a condition fatal to growth, 
even if the ground contains sufficient moisture. Some 
authorities claim poisonous gases are formed by this 

While the evil effects of excluding air from the soil 
are many, it is equally true that too much air is harmful. 
Air is just as essential in the forming of nitrates as 


moisture. Consequently, if all the air were removed 
from the ground there would be no forming of nitrates, 
and plant food could not be produced. Too much air 
makes cracks and fissures in the soil, drawing out 
moisture, oftentimes to such a depth as not only to 
stunt the crop, but kill it. Too much air in the soil in 
the spring can easily cause the loss of enough moisture 
to grow a crop. 

It is a well known fact that the atmospheric pressure 
on the earth's surface is 14.7 pounds per square inch at 
sea level. The amount of nitrogen in these 14.7 pounds 
of pressure is 77%. It is perfectly logical, if the 
ground is broken up and thoroughly pulverized when 
plowing, that this pressure of 14.7 pounds per square 
inch will force the air into the soil taking with it 77% of 
free nitrogen. It is the air circulating around every 
particle of soil in conjunction with capillary moisture 
that liberates plant food for the growing plants. 

This field is similar to that shown on page twenty-eight but in a much 
less aggravated form. However, if left to itself for any length of time it 
is easily possible to see how the cracks would widen and deepen. 


Scientists tell us that wheat, oats, barley, rye, etc., 
take up the nitrogen, which they use from the 
roots, and then only in nitrates in dissolved form. Hence, 
nitrogen must be available in the ground. 

The more nitrates there are in the ground per acre 
the greater chance the farmer has of growing increased 
crops. He may have his phosphorous, potassium, cal- 
cium and water, but unless he has the nitrogen which 
he can get from the free air, he can never grow the proper 
kind of crop. 

Since the need for air in the soil is highly important it 
behooves the plowman to be very careful to see that the 
ground is thoroughly pulverized and that all large air 
spaces are eliminated and the after preparation of the 
seed bed made so as to keep the air and moisture mixed 
in the ground in as nearly the perfect proportion as 
possible. Enough has been said to show that the perfect 
condition in all soils is when the soil has natural air 
spaces between the soil particles. This is one reason 
why Nature makes soil particles with irregular surfaces. 
The best way for aerating the ground is to thoroughly 
pulverize when plowing. To be sure of this requires a 
study of the shapes and sizes of plow bottoms, because 
different soils require different shapes, sizes and curva- 
tures of bottoms to bring about the desired result. 
Also the time of the year that the plowing is done with 
relation to the time elapsing between the plowing and 
planting has a great deal to do with the success of 
this practice. 

In the chapter on the temperature of the soil atten- 
tion is called to the difference in the temperature required 
for the most propitious development of plant food and 
the planting of wheat to resist the winter's freezing. 



Observe how deeply fissures will penetrate the ground when conditions 
are ripe. This condition can only be prevented by a mulch of earth on 
the surface to keep moisture travelling upward from the ground water 
level to the mulch, and the rays of heat and light from penetrating. 

Summing up the importance of air in the soil, temper- 
ature and plant food development, and the killing of 
insect pests we find that early summer plowing, with 
complete burying of stubble and trash on the bottom 
of the furrow, is the best method for killing the Hessian 
fly, and aerating the soil at a time when nitrates develop 
best. At this time there is the least amount of rainfall 
to wash away plant food and the soil is in the best 
possible condition for the percolating and saving of 
what rain does fall so that later in the fall when the 
time comes for planting wheat it is at a cooler temper- 
ature with plant food enough developed for giving the 
wheat a remarkably good start, thus lessening its 
chances of winter killing. 


Soil Temperature 

FOR centuries farmers have observed that some soils 
are seemingly better adapted than others to grow 
certain kinds of crops. These observations naturally 
have led to what is called "wheat soil," "barley soil," 
"rye soil," etc. While these observations on the face 
of them would lead one to think that some soils are 
more adapted than others for crop growing, there is a 
great deal of doubt as to their real merit because in the 
light of present-day experiments crops have been grown 
in pure sand which had been supplied with the plant 
food elements and the amount of moisture necessary to 
grow plants. 

Climatic conditions have much to do with crop grow- 
ing, consequently, when one begins to study what crops 
that soil is to produce, he must take into consideration 
the climatic conditions as well as the soil. Naturally 
then, if a farmer can supply a soil with conditions 
equivalent to climate, he can, to the extent of that 
ability, grow plants in any soil. 

The wheat and oat plants offer an interesting illus- 
tration of this fact. Assuming that the proper fertility 
is in the soil, whether it is sand or clay, climatic con- 
ditions, that is, temperature and water, must determine 
the growth. Up to the time of ear shooting wheat 
needs wet, but not too warm weather; at flowering 



time, dry, warm weather; during the ripening period, 
medium moist weather, and dry weather for harvest. 
The oat does best in moist and relatively cool weather. 

It is not to be supposed that it is possible for a man 
to control the temperature of the soil to the degree that 
he can bring about climatic conditions for growing a 
crop, but by the proper conservation of moisture and 
cultivation of the soil it can be made warm in the spring 

Ground in this condition becomes too hot in the summer for the suc- 
cessful development of nitrates for growing corn. This soil, a silt loam, 
requires very careful handling to prevent its powdering. 

when it otherwise would be cool, and cool in the summer 
when it otherwise would be hot. To this extent the 
temperature of the ground can be controlled. This 
aids very materially in the growing of crops. The 
means for bringing this about center around the amount 
of moisture in the ground and the rapidity with which it 


is permitted to evaporate. The evaporation of moist- 
ure is determined by the kind of soil, its compactness, 
the amount of surface exposed to the rays of light, and 
the wind. The greatest difference in temperature 
between the different types of soil takes place in the 
early spring thawing and the period immediately follow- 
ing. This is of utmost importance to farmers especially 
at planting time because a small amount of difference 
in the temperature of the ground means speeding up or 
retarding the rate of germination of the seed and the 
growth of the plants. Other things being equal, it 
logically follows that the sandy types of soil can be 
planted earlier in the year than the clay types. 

When' a soil is cultivated a larger area of its surface 
is exposed, thus the amount of evaporation is very much 
greater. The result of greater evaporation is that the 
temperature of the cultivated soil rises much higher and 
faster than that of the uncultivated, and permits earlier 
planting. This is one of the strongest arguments for 
fall plowing and leaving the ground rough. In the 
spring of the year the additional exposed surface dries 
out much more rapidly and thus permits earlier seeding. 
The most interesting part of this process is that as soon 
as a dry mulch of this earth is formed on the plowed 
soil the loss of water by evaporation is reduced very 
much, while the loss on the unplowed soil is still greater. 
In the summer this reduces the temperature of the 
mulched ground, while that of the unplowed ground is 
considerably raised. 

A further observation is that the heat which is not 
utilized in the evaporation of water is being rapidly 
conducted downward in the unplowed ground, thus 
causing it to dry out at great depth. On the cultivated 


or mulched land only a small part of the heat is con- 
ducted downward. The other is radiated back to the 
atmosphere by the dry ground on top. This is because 
the mulch breaks up capillary attraction with the moist 
soil below, acting somewhat as a blanket to hold the 
moisture down and keep the heat out. When this mulch 
becomes completely dry, as it often does, during the hot 
summer, it radiates back large amounts of excessive 
heat to the atmosphere, thus, we find the effect of this 
mulch upon the soil as follows: 

It prevents the soil from reaching a high temperature 
during the day and a low temperature during the night; 
it greatly warms the soil in the spring; it tends to con- 
serve moisture in the lower strata and consequently 
reduces the rate of cooling in the summer. The im- 
portance of this is very manifest when one considers the 
temperature necessary for the development of nitric acid. 

Soluble nitrates do not form at a temperature below 
41 Fahrenheit. The most favorable temperature is 
between 60 and 85 Fahrenheit. They form very 
slowly at 115 and at 130 will not form. It has been 
determined that wheat germinating at a temperature of 
40 Fahrenheit is more resistant to cold than wheat 
which germinates at 64. Obviously, the temperature 
for the greatest formation of nitrates, which are neces- 
sary for the development of plant food, is too high for 
the successful growing of wheat to withstand the winter's 
freezing. This makes it necessary, if the most favorable 
condition for wheat is to be brought about, to plow the 
ground and keep the seed bed at a temperature of from 
60 to 85 Fahrenheit in order that plant food may be 
developed for the growing of plants which must be 
grown at a cooler temperature. 


Why Soils Must Be Handled 

THE soil is the farmer's working capital. It is neces- 
sary that this capital be used in the wisest possible 
manner to earn the profit which justly belongs to him. 
Carelessly handling the soil results in a loss just exactly 
in the same manner as the mishandling of working 
capital results in loss to a manufacturer. The broad 
business principle underlying manufacturing and farm- 
ing is identical but the tools and working capital of the 
two are widely separate and hence must be handled in a 
manner peculiar to each before either can achieve 

Soil is a combination of disintegrated rocks, dead vege- 
tation and many living forms, such as bacteria and 
fungi. Broadly speaking, soil may be regarded as 
matter in which a planted seed can grow to maturity. 
The difference between soil and earth or ground, from a 
practical standpoint is so slight that the terms are 
almost synonymous. 

When comparing the mode of life of the plant with 
that of a human being, the soil around the plant may be 
regarded as the dining room in which the plant eats, the 
kitchen in which its food is prepared, the storehouse 
where the food elements are kept in reserve, a reservoir 
for the water and a ventilating system. When one 
reflects upon the numerous results this working capital 
is supppsed to produce, the more concerned one becomes 
as to how it should be treated. 


It is plainly evident that all these conditions are 
necessary to bring about plant growth. When we 
understand that plant growth, in the form of either 
legitimate crops or weeds, consumes plant food, or 
fertility and the water which is contained in the soil, 
we see why it is necessary to replenish the fertility and 
change the condition in this ground before new develop- 
ment of plant food will take place. Plowing is the only 
means known to human endeavor that will successfully 
start this process. It is highly important then, that 
one should understand the peculiarity of the soil he 
desires to plow before he can do this efficiently. 

There is scarcely a farm, regardless of how small it 
may be, that is made up of less than two distinct soil 
compositions. The fact that most farms are made up of 
several soils, some of them radically different, means 
the necessity for a thorough understanding of the types 
because they must be handled in an entirely different 
manner to bring about good results. 

There are many soil combinations but the most 
common are clay, loam, clay loam, sandy loam, loamy 
sand, sand and muck. We will go into some detail in 
the clay, loam and sandy soils because they are by far 
the most common and will serve as illustrations of the 
fact that each soil must be tilled according to its kind. 
Indeed, there are many types of soils that are never 
mentioned in books which have bountifully repaid the 
tillage of farmers who studied their characteristics, and 
by long, bitter experience learned how to handle them 
for crop growing. 

Clay is the hardest soil to till on account of the 
peculiar effect water and air have upon it. It holds 



This sample of clay and the soils illustrated on pages 41, 43, 
45 and 47 were taken from the same farm, comprising 240 acres. 
These entirely different soils coming from one farm offer the strongest 
evidence that every farmer should thoroughly understand soil composi- 
tion. A careful examination will reveal the similarity of the speci- 
mens to the land being plowed. 

The same peculiarities of the clay soil in this plowed ground obtain in 
the specimen above. Finely pulverized earth is not to be seen. 

moisture longer than any other kind of soil with the 
possible exception of peat; bakes hardest; forms 
clods easiest and cracks into deeper fissures, per- 


mitting great quantities of moisture to escape. 
Clay never works up into a loose, mellow seed 
bed, but rather one of clods or fine dust which 
blows easily. Cultivated when wet, clay forms into 
clods of different sizes, from that of a walnut to as 
large as a person's head, depending upon the kind and 
amount of cultivation. The grain is fine and has a 
peculiarity not discernible in any other type of soil. 
Moist clay is soft and sticky. It can be kneaded and 
formed into various shapes and bodies. Small boys, 
unable to buy marbles, use clay very successfully for 
making them. A small piece of clay can be easily 
smoothed and polished by the fingernail. While polish- 
ing a greasy or soapy feeling will be noted. Moist clay, 
when rubbed between the thumb and finger, has a slip- 
pery feeling. Persons walking on a sloping bank of 
wet clay are apt to have their feet slide out from under 
them very suddenly. Clay in a powdered condition 
when moistened, has a peculiar odor unlike anything 
else. Clay in color may be red, yellow, blue, white, 
black or chocolate. 

For the most part clay soils when plowed too dry, 
form large clods which are decidedly hard to break into 
pulverized condition. If such soil lacks humus in 
sufficient quantities to keep it friable, it nearly always 
forms a powdered surface. Among these peculiarities 
of clay the fact that it holds moisture longest, bakes 
hardest, and forms clods easiest should be a warning that 
the greatest of care must be exercised in plowing dry 
clay soils, if there is a possibility of rainy weather com- 
ing between the time of plowing and planting, because 
the dry soil in this powdered condition will run into a 
sticky, plastic mass which will later dry hard and crack 



In this specimen of clay loam soil the peculiarities of clay predominate 
but the smaller clods to the right show that this soil can be pulverized 
more effectively than the clay soil. 

The finer pulverized earth distinguishes this clay loam from the clay 
soil, but many of the distinguishing characteristics of clay can be readily 


so that it cannot be broken up successfully by any kind 
of cultivation. This peculiarity of clay has led many 
farmers to ridicule so called scientific methods of farm- 


ing because they were told that it was impossible to 
disk or harrow too much. A winter's freezing is the 
only successful treatment for rectifying the evil done by 
plowing a dry, clay soil lacking in humus and within the 
limit of abundant rainfall and planting the crop. 
Farmers who live in climates where there is no oppor- 
tunity for freezing can ponder with a great deal of 
profit upon this problem. 

It is common knowledge that a soil plowed wet will 
dry out more rapidly than unplowed soil. Plowing wet 
clay has the same effect that plowing a wet sand soil has 
as far as the drying out is concerned but with entirely 
different results. Clay, being of a plastic nature and 
sticking close together, is puddled by wet plowing. It is 
turned over in a closely compacted manner so that the 
top drys out first leaving a slower drying process for the 
bottom of the furrow. This naturally means that 
avenues of escape must be formed for the moisture below. 
These avenues will appear at the place of least resistance 
in the soil. These places are caused by the action of 
the mouldboard in turning over the soil. The result is 
a cloddy formation at the bottom of the seed bed which 
locks up the soil fertility in the clods, interferes with the 
upward trend of capillarity and makes absolutely im- 
possible a final preparation of the seed bed. The plow 
mouldboard working in wet clay performs exactly the 
same operation as a brick making machine does in 
molding the clay into bricks, hence in the handling of 
clay soils the plowing must be done at a season of the 
year when clods will not be formed. 

When one considers that clay soil holds moisture 
longer than any other type of soil it is obvious that clay 



This specimen of loamy soil does not reveal either of the character- 
istics of the clay or the sand but does show a combination of the two in 
such form as to make, this soil readily tillable. 

Observe in this plowing the absence of large clods and the same granular 
tpearance that is plainly noticeable in the illustration above. 


land tilled in such a way as to conserve moisture will 
stand drouth much better than coarser grained soils. 

Fall plowing of clay soils in climates where the ground 
freezes deep enough to separate the soil particles is 
becoming more generally practiced. The reason is that 


whether or not the ground is in ideal condition for plow- 
ing in the fall it can be turned over covering up the 
vegetation so that it will rot during the winter, and in 
the spring when the ground thaws the soil will be in 
condition for the successful making of a seed bed pro- 
viding it is not harrowed when wet. Care must be 
exercised however, in fall plowing of clay soils, to leave 
the ground rough because if it is left in a smooth con- 
dition the surface soil will run together by the action of 
the water in the spring, bake, and form a crust that will 
be difficult to handle. The principle underlying all this 
is simply the importance of permitting the surface 
moisture to escape and holding that which is below in 
the ground. If this idea is thoroughly understood the 
handling of clay soils need not necessarily be difficult, 
but one must have enough power on his farm and the 
right kind of plow to do this work when moisture con- 
ditions are right. The unfortunate part of putting off 
plowing clay soils until spring is that the farmer is taking 
one of three chances. The soil may be ideal for plowing, 
it may be too dry or it may be too wet. When the soil 
is ideal everything is propitious, no damage done. When 
the ground is too dry it is impossible to make an ideal 
seed bed on account of one of the two extremes the 
ground plows up into either hard clods or fine dust. 
When the ground is too wet the condition that has been 
mentioned previously in reference to puddling of clay 
soils obtains. It is doubtful whether one would take 
such chances if he thoroughly understood the damage 
he is doing by postponing the plowing. Of course, the 
argument that farmers do not have time to fall plow 
every year carries a great deal of weight because it is 
absolutely true. But why is it not possible to plan a 
crop routine in which this principle is taken into con- 



In this specimen of sandy loam traces of the clay are noticeable but 
the sand predominates. Obviously the selection of a plow for turning 
this type of soil must be different from that used in plowing clay soils. 

Observe the characteristics of the 'sandy loam soil in this picture, and 
also the different manner in which the furrows are laid from that shown 
in the plowing of clay on page thirty -nine. 

sideration? A great many farmers are now following 
such plans and the results show the wisdom of this 

Loamy soils are made up of sand and clay in such 
composition that the identity of each is lost. When pressed 


between the thumb and finger a granular, raw feeling is 
distinctly noticeable. It has neither the rough, gritty 
feeling of the sand nor the smooth, slippery feeling of 
the clay. A ball of dry loam is porous while a ball of 
dry clay is compact. Loam crumbles readily, making 
it easy to plow and cultivate. It dries out faster than 
clay, and slower than sandy soils. It does not form 
hard, unbreakable clods like clay, nor does it crumble so 
easily as sand. It forms into a mellow, compact seed 
bed, and gives the farmer more return for poor cultiva- 
tion than any other soil. These characteristics of loam 
undoubtedly give rise to the statement that anyone can 
throw seed into the ground and it will grow, meaning, of 
course, that anyone can farm. . 

The expression, clay loam, means that the clay pre- 
dominates in the composition, and sandy loam means 
that the sand predominates in the composition, there- 
fore, the handling of a loamy soil must be more inclined 
towards the soil which predominates. That is, a clay 
loam soil should be handled more like a clay soil and a 
sandy loam should be treated more like sandy soil. 
Clay loam is much easier to plow and cultivate than 
clay because the sand in the loam breaks up the com- 
pact relationship between the clay particles. It has 
much the same texture as clay soil. It can be worked 
to better advantage than clay soil when wet, although 
not successfully. It forms a more compact and mellow 
s*eed bed. The cloddy formation is less predominant 
than in clay. It has the clay characteristics of cracking 
and drying out and must be handled in such a way as to 
prevent this. 

Sandy loam can be told very readily by its grain. 
Sometimes the particles are large enough to be easily 



This specimen of sandy soil shows how quickly it dries out. The 
blurred portion to the right was caused by the soil drying and falling 
at the moment the photographer was exposing the negative. 

In this illustration of plowing sandy soil the furrows are regular in 
shape from one end to the other. The finely pulverized ground is just 
as noticeable in the plowed field as in the specimen shown above. 


seen by the naked eye. They can always be distin- 
guished by the use of a magnifying glass. A sandy, 
gritty feeling is noticeable when rubbing the soil between 
the thumb and finger. This is a never-failing way of 
recognizing a sandy soil of any character. The sandy 
loam, as the name signifies, is a mixture of sand and 
clay, with the sand in larger quantity than the clay. 
This makes it a less porous soil than the loamy sand, 
but more porous than clay. It works up easily, 
does not form hard, unbreakable clods, and is particularly 
well adapted to the growth of tuber crops. It does not 
require so much effort to plow or work up into a seed 
bed as clay loam, but requires more effort than the 
loamy sand. 

Loamy sand is a combination of sand and loam in 
different degrees than sandy loam. Sandy loam con- 
tains more loam than sand, and loamy sand more sand 
than loam. The easiest and best way to distinguish be- 
tween these two types of soil is to make them into balls. 
The sandy loam will hold its shape, while the loamy sand 
will not. Loamy sand dries out the quickest of any 
type of soil. It is the easiest to plow, it never forms 
clods, is coarse grained, and is easily distinguished by 
the gritty feeling experienced by rubbing it between the 
thumb and forefinger. It is a soil that has to be handled 
with the greatest of care or it will produce nothing. It 
readily blows on account of the rapidity with which it 
dries out. 

The grains of sand are much coarser than particles of 
clay. Obviously, there will be larger air spaces. These 
air spaces permit moisture to percolate downward rapid- 
ly. Sand, in a loose condition is thus easily packed by a 
heavy rain. The water percolating downward naturally 


carries with it the grains of sand until they strike other 
grains and cannot be carried farther. Thus, the process 
continues until the final arrangement of all the soil 
grains is such that there is no further opportunity for 
the force of gravity to operate. This principle must be 
carried constantly in mind when farming sandy soils 
because the water compacting the soil in this manner on 
its downward trend makes the finest capillary connec- 
tion possible between the top of the ground and the 
lower surface. Thus, when the weather warms to 
such an extent that water vaporizes on the surface, 
moisture is drawn from below by capillary attraction 
with great rapidity. The only way that this can be 
stopped is by changing the relationship of the soil 
particles on the surface. This can be brought about by 
the use of any implement that will stir the soil. What- 
ever implement is used, the relationship of the soil 
particles must be entirely changed so that the moisture 
from below cannot escape into the air by capillary at- 

With this understanding it naturally follows that 
sandy soils require more frequent liming, fertilizing and 
a greater amount of humus than the clay soils, also more 
frequent cultivating on the surface if one expects to get 
the most out of them. A question often arises as to the 
advisability of plowing sandy soils in the fall for spring 
planting. These water peculiarities of sandy soils 
make a great difference between the time of plowing and 
the planting season. In the chapter on the temperature 
of the soil, reasons are given as to why sandy soil be- 
comes warmer earlier in the spring than clay soil. This 
earlier warming of sandy soil and the quickness with 
which the soil compacts offer good reasons for per- 


mitting a much shorter time between the plowing of the 
ground and the planting of the crop. 

The practice of growing a green cover crop of some 
sort and plowing it under in the spring of the year 
instead of in the fall is proving to be a very beneficial 
and profitable process for sandy land, particularly if 
those cover crops are nitrogen bearing plants, such as 
clover, etc., simply because being plowed under in sandy 
soil, they form a sort of reservoir for holding moisture as 
well as yielding nitrates. The fact that sand does not 
form clods or large air spaces makes a practice of this 
kind profitable on sandy soils in the spring whereas it 
would prove detrimental on clay soils on account of the 
tendency of these soils to form clods and air spaces on 
the bottom of the seed bed. 

Depth of Plowing 

DEPTH of plowing has been argued pro and con for 
many years. A depth of six inches is regarded as deep 
plowing by some and shallow by others. In this dis- 
cussion two to four inches is regarded as shallow. faur_ 
to eight inches as medium and eight to sixteen inches as 
deep plowing. The question that interests every 
farmer and one that he must decide for himself is whether 
he shall practice shallow or deep plowing on his farm, 
and not what his neighbor regards as deep or shallow 
plowing. One farmer makes great success of deep 
plowing, another plows just as deep and meets with 
dismal crop failure. One farmer plows deep in the fall 
and grows a good crop the next year, another plows just 
as deep in the fall and has a dismal failure the next year. 
The same results are happening in deep spring plowing. 
These being facts beyond dispute, something besides the 
mere act of plowing must be taken into consideration 
before a conclusion can be reached. 

Advocates of deep fall plowing center their arguments 
around the theory that deep plowing in the fall turns 
the raw earth to the surface giving it the advantage of 
the winter's freezing and atmospheric influences to bring 
into play the fertility which is supposed to have lain 
dormant or in unavailable form. The experience of 
those who have deep fall plowed with disastrous results 
the next year would tend to disprove this theory. The 
fact that many men have deep plowed in the spring with 
successful results would tend furthermore to prove that 
fertility is made available by deep plowing in the spring. 


These observations tend to the belief that those who 
plow deep in the fall with bad results the next year, 
must not have had fertility on the surface of the plowed 
field or the winter's freezing destroyed it, and further 
that the deep plowed field in the spring contains fertility. 

If one regards these deductions as logical, the question 
as to whether one should plow deep or shallow in the 
fall or spring must be solely determined by the condition 
of the land. The farmer must be absolutely certain that 
he has the plant food elements in the soil either in avail- 
able or unavailable form, and also whether freezing 
influences are necessary for the liberation of that food. 
How can this be determined? 

It is doubtful whether samples taken from the surface 
of a plowed field and examined by a soil chemist would 
be of any practical value to the farmer for the simple 
reason that the soil chemist would be unable to tell as 
to the availability of these elements in the soil. The 
most the chemist can do is to determine the amount and 
kinds of elements that are in the sample submitted. 
These deductions are apt to be entirely wrong as far as 
the quantity over the whole field is concerned. 

It is a question whether any man by following this 
method can ever be sure as to what the soil needs on 
account of the uncertainty of the amount of plant food 
elements of all kinds existing in different portions of the 
field. A much better way for a farmer who is not 
positive as to what he is going to accomplish by deep 
plowing is to do a little experimenting of his own. It 
can be done very successfully providing the experimenter 
has learned how to handle the different soils as discussed 
in Chapter V. 


Take five potfuls of soil from the field and test for 
the elements required to grow the crop. In each of 
these pots plant a few seeds of the crop desired to be 
grown. To the first pot add nothing, to the second, a 
quarter teaspoonful of sulphate of potash, or if that is 
not obtainable use a teaspoonful of wood ashes. To the 
third pot put a combination of the phosphate and 
potash, to the fourth a quarter teaspoonful of sodium 
nitrate or ammonium sulphate, and to the fifth a com- 
bination of acid phosphate, sulphate of potash and 

Whether the ground is plowed deep or shallow the condition of the 
earth shown in this cross section of a plowed field must obtain before the 
seed bed can be made a success. Deep plowing often shows a good 
surface and hides a bad furrow bottom. 

sodium nitrate. This sort of test is not, strictly speak- 
ing, scientifically accurate, but it is close enough to show 
anyone which of the three principal plant food elements, 
phosphorus, potash and nitrogen, are lacking in the soil. 

If the plant in the first pot refuses to grow, it is plainly 
evident that the soil is lacking in plant food elements. 
The growth of the plants in each of the pots will signify 
in what the soil is lacking and what will be necessary to 


add to that soil before it will produce. It is further 
logical to assume that if the best growth takes place in 
those pots that contain fertilizer or the plant food 
elements which the farmer cannot hope to add to the 
soil, it is unwise to plow the ground to that depth whether 
he does it in the fall or spring. We often deceive our- 
selves into thinking that soil plowed eight, nine, or ten 
inches deep turns up soil fertility when it does not. 

As far as the writer has been able to learn, there have 
never been experiments tried to prove that winter's 
freezing unlocks soil fertility any more than that the 
winter's freezing of certain soil particles such as clay, 
has a tendency to flocculate the soil, or break it into 
small particles, so that the fertility contained in the soil 
is made more available. 

Obviously then, one must suppose that before deep 
fall * or "spring plowing is indulged in it is necessary to 
know whether the deep soil contains available fertility. 

The other important question to decide is whether or 
not the plowing can be done so as to leave the ground in 
the proper tilth and condition for plant growth. This 
can only be determined by having a knowledge of the soil 
and how to handle it to bring about conditions of tilth. 

The one great advantage of deep fall plowing over 
deep spring plowing is that the fall plowing receives the 
aid of t'ime, moisture and freezing to break up cloddy 
formations that may have resulted from the plowing and 
to compact the soil into a suitable condition for capillar- 
ity to take place. In deep spring plowing, the ground 
is often turned over in cloddy formations which are 
detrimental to the compacting of the soil at the bottom 
of the furrow on account of the depth at which it must 



be worked. The result is a seed bed with a poor cap- 
illary connection with the sub-surface. This fact, and 
also the fact that barren soils are often turned over 
make deep plowing in the spring questionable in a 
great many localities, but where the soil can be turned 
over in a friable condition and contains abundant plant 
food, there is little to worry about deep plowing in the 
spring providing the seed bed is compacted as it should be. 

This depth of plowing attempted with a base designed for medium 
depth plowing reoeals a badly turned furrow slice, poorly cleaned furrow 
bottom. The illustration on the next page shows a side view of this 


Deep plowing cannot be done successfully with a plow 
having a capacity of not more than seven or eight inches 
in depth, because it cannot possibly break up or pulverize 
'a deep furrow\ This tact should be taken into serious 
~cbnsideration~by anyone who attempts to do deep plow- 
ing if he expects to plant a crop soon after the plowing 
is done. Its curvature and shape will permit the passage 
of thick slices over the mouldboard. But when the 
plow is penetrating a depth beyond its capacity it 
pulverizes poorly to that depth and the rest of the slice 
is broken into clods which are usually thrown on the 
bottom of the furrow. For this reason one who expects 
to turn a depth of eight inches or more should secure a 
plow with a bottom designed for this type of plowing. 

Part of the furrow is turned on edge and is almost ready to fall back. 

Attempting to use a plow having a capacity of eight 
inches in those soils that stick together has a tendency 
to set the furrow slice on edge and oftentimes the furrow 
slice rolls back with the sod on top. Thus, the furrow 
itself effectively offsets any influence the plow bottom 
may exercise towards pulverization. This fact also 
accounts for a great deal of deep plowing failure because 



Plowing eleven inches deep with a bottom made especially for deep 
plowing. Observe the clean furrow, smooth furrow bottom and wall, 
and the furrow slice turned over properly. This plowing is in great 
contrast to that illustrated on page fifty-five. On account of the depth at 
which this plow is wording the greatest of care should be exercised to see 
that the bottom of the furrow is properly made because none of the after 
preparation implements such as the disk harrow, peg harrow, or roller 
pulverizer can exert much influence on the bottom of the furrow. 

the seed bed is left in such a manner that moisture 
cannot come up from below by capillary attraction and 
that which is on the surface either washes away or sinks 
into the subsoil where it cannot rise again. 



We must remember whether we are plowing shallow, 
medium, or deep that the ground must always be left in 
condition at the bottom of the furrow for capillarity to 
take place with the subsoil. We cannot judge this by 
looking at the surface. It is necessary to dig into 
the ground the depth of the plowing and observe the 
condition. When we do this we will often see things 
that surprise us, and the explanation for many a deep 
plowing failure can be satisfactorily found. 

The great advantage of deep plowing is that it offers 
deeper root beds for the crops. The mellower the 
ground is the easier the roots grow and penetrate. 

Side view of the deep plowing with the proper bottom illustrated on 
page fifty-seven. Observe how this soil is being turned over. The 
crack through the center of the furrow slice shows the immense pressure 
being exerted to pulverize the furrow slice from top to bottom. Observe 
also in the plowed field the lack f large clods and holes. The manner 
in which this bottom forces the top of the furrow slice against the ground 
and then crushes it as the plow advances is obvious. 

With the deep plowing the plant has the additional 
advantage of getting farther into the ground, thus 
enabling it to drink in more plant food and have the 


advantage of more moisture in the dryer season of the 
year. This season is nearly always the flowering time 
of the plant, and accounts in a large measure, for the 
additional crops that are grown on deeper plowed seed 
beds which are properly compacted and cultivated on 
the surface for the retention of moisture. 

It is equally obvious that if the deep plowed ground 
is not compacted properly on the start for the retention 
of moisture and improperly cultivated, or not cultivated 
later, that the deeper the seed bed the more moisture 
will escape. 

Chapter V on handling soils brings out the fact that 
the water holding content is determined by the size of 
the soil grains, hence, we can expect sandy soils to dry 
out much more rapidly than clay soils and thus produce 
less unless the proper precautions are taken to save the 

Sandy soils have less fertility to turn up in deep plow- 
ing than clay soils, hence a farmer who has any type of a 
sandy soil should be very careful in his plowing to see 
that the plant food elements are in the surface after the 
ground is plowed if he has to put them there by means 
of artificial fertilizers. The very nature of sand prevents 
it from puddling and forming clods, but is propitious to 
the rapid escapement of moisture. 

A grave question arises in deep plowing as to the 
value of spreading a heavy coat of manure on the surface 
and turning it under providing the plowing is done 
deeper than the habits or customs of the roots of the 
plant for penetrating the soil. If the soil above the 
spread manure contains sufficient fertility to grow the 
crop it is easy for one to deceive himself into thinking 
that he has accomplished a great deal by turning under 


the manure. As a matter of fact, any manure that is 
spread below the roots is of little value to the plants 
because if there is sufficient moisture in the ground to 
raise what plant food may come from it in solution, 
there will be a sufficient amount of water in the ground 
to permit it to leach away, hence, the chief value of 
manure as fertilizer is lost. 

Another serious objection constantly happening is 
that a very heavy coat of barnyard manure is applied and 
turned under in such a way that nitrates form too 
rapidly in the spring on account of the ammonia content 
of the manure and later in the season change into un- 
available forms thus destroying the influence of the 
manure, leaving the remaining part dry and in a form 
that is hard to dissolve. This is what our scientists 
term burning the soil. This dry, insoluble form of 
fertilizer at that depth in the ground interferes most 
seriously with the upward trend of moisture and retards 
growth to that extent. 

While there is no question but that ultimately the soil 
will be benefited by turning under manure at this depth 
one can diminish a crop or lose it by a too zealous appli- 
cation of manure at this depth, particularly if the ap- 
plication is made close to planting time. 

It is easily possible for a soil that contains fertility to 
be plowed deep in the fall and so improperly handled the 
following spring that a crop cannot grow. For this 
reason if a test with the soil pots proved that there was 
plenty of fertility in the soil and the crop next year 
proved a failure, it naturally follows that the deep plow- 
ing in the fall would not be responsible for the failure. 
This is not a mere hypothesis but has happened many 
times when the failure of the crop has been wrongly at- 


tributed to deep fall plowing. The preparation of the 
seed bed the following spring was the fault. The logic in 
the reference to the preparation of fall plowed ground in 
the spring is just as applicable to the deep fall plowing as 
the medium depth plowing because air and moisture 
must be properly proportioned the full depth of the 
seed bed. 

Another benefit that can be derived from deep plow- 
ing is the eradication of weeds. Shallow plowing very 
seldom does anything except to more effectively plant 
weed seeds. When plowing is done to effectively 
bury all vegetation and seeds deep in the ground it is 
impossible for the majority of them to sprout and reach 
the surface before the crop which is planted above them 
can sprout and reach a good growth. This fact is due 
to the peculiar nature of plant growth. 

There is no reason to believe that weeds should grow 
any faster than other plants unless conditions for their 
growth are more favorable. This is the reason why 
certain kinds of grassy weeds appear in the blue grass 
lands when the^ blue grass itself is drying out from lack 
of moisture. To put it another way, these grassy 
weeds flourish with less moisture than blue grass does. 
To get rid of weeds means to keep the ground in a con- 
dition for the more favorable growth of the plant that 
the farmer wishes to grow. 

Deep plowing in the spring of the year puts the weed 
seeds so far down with the turned surface that the 
ground is cooler than that above, hence the sprouting of 
the seed is retarded. If the surface soil is cultivated at 
the time it should be, the surface of the ground will be 
warmer by the evaporation of moisture and the crop 
can be planted and receive a good start before the weeds 



Plowing done in this manner deeply buries all the trash in the furrow, 
leaving a clean surface for the final preparation of the seed bed. Observe 
the very weedy condition at the left and the entire absence of weeds pro- 
truding between the furrow slices. It is doubly essential in deep plow- 
ing that all the weeds be entirely covered to prevent the formation of large 
air vents from the top of the seed bed to the bottom. 

can interfere, thus the weeds will start and provide food 
substance for the plants. The deep fall plowing of weedy 
ground will naturally result identically the same as the 
spring plowing, but with this additional advantage, if 
the ground is plowed sufficiently early in the fall and 
enough rain falls the weeds will sprout and grow in the 
fall and be killed by the winter's freezing. 


When to Plow 

THE reader who has carefully perused the preceding 
pages has observed that fall or spring plowing is not 
an academic question to be decided by debate. But 
one which must be decided by every farmer. 

Enough has been said to bring out the important fact 
that as a rule clay soils are better plowed in the fall and 
sandy soils in the spring. However, many contributing 
factors such as humus, freezing, amount of rainfall, 
plowing under green crops, moisture conservation and 
killing insects and weeds enter the problem. No man 
except the one who understands the soil under consider- 
ation and purpose of plowing can give an opinion worth 

As a general rule fall plowed ground can be worked 
earlier in the spring than unplowed ground. Nature 
has a curious habit of causing plants to grow and prosper 
in certain seasons of the year. The nearer crops can be 
planted to that season of growth the greater is the 
prospect for a successful crop. Late and backward 
springs often prevent the planting of the seed until quite 
late. The fact that fall plowed ground left in a rough 
state dries out much more rapidly in the spring than 
unplowed ground gives the advantage of getting onto 
the ground earlier in the year. This offsets in a measure, 
the baneful influence of a backward spring and also 
enables the farmer to do his disking and harrowing 


oftener if necessary to put the ground in a better con- 
dition of temperature for the sprouting of the seed. 

Time is the determining factor. Oftentimes when 
plowing should be done so as not to form clods, the 
farmer is exceedingly busy at some other task, usually 
harvesting or cultivating. Naturally the plowing waits. 

There is always some season in the year when ground 
can be plowed without the formation of clods. For this 
reason those who expect to get the most out of their 
plowing will take that into grave consideration. It is a 
peculiar fact that plowing is usually done in certain 
seasons of the year because of habit and necessity. 

No one who contemplates building a house would ever 
think of laying the foundation in the winter when 
freezing would ruin it before the house could be built. 
It is just as illogical to plow the ground when it is not in 
condition for pulverization as it is to lay a foundation 
in the winter, providing Nature does not have time to do 
the pulverizing before the crop is planted. 

This old idea of spring plowing, fall plowing, and 
summer plowing will have to give way to plowing when 
the ground is in proper condition for it, particularly in 
the heavy types of soil, if the crop is to have the benefit 
of the best start possible. 

If plowing is done at the last minute, the ground is 
either in first class condition for pulverization, too wet, 
or too dry and hard. The chances are one in three of 
finding the ground fit. Consequently, plowing cannot 
be put off until spring or fall if advantage is to be taken 
of right conditions for plowing. 

Unfortunately it has been the habit for years and 
years to put off plowing sod, cornfields, and very many 


stubble fields until spring. In other words, the bulk of 
the plowing is left for spring work. This, in the light of 
present day experiences, will have to be entirely reversed 
or the maximum crops can never be grown. 

Wet spring plowing of clay soils always gives the 
crops a poor start and makes after cultivation practically 
impossible for the development and liberation of plant 
food, particularly if the cultivating season is dry. It is 
a matter of history that most wet springs are followed 
by dry summers. Wet spring plowing of sandy soils 
means the leaching away of plant food elements that 
should be retained for the growing crop. 

The plowing of clay soils in the spring when they are 
too dry and hard means plowing either a field of clods or 
else turning the soil into a finely powdered condition 
which becomes plastic upon the first rain. Plowing a 
sandy soil when it is too dry means further escapement 
of moisture. Therefore, plowing either when too wet 
or too dry in the spring means a curtailment of the crop. 

The following information on corn and oat growing 
shows why an understanding of the crops to be grown 
and the physical condition of the ground necessary to 
grow these crops should be considered before plowing. 

Corn requires 271 tons of water to produce one ton of 
dry substance. This means 2.39 acre inches of water. 
In other words, it requires 2.39 inches of water to grow 
one ton of corn. It has been demonstrated that too 
little or too much rainfall at flowering time is injurious 
to the crop. If the corn grower expects his crop to have 
this water just exactly as the plant needs it, neither too 
much nor too little at any one time, he must of necessity 


plow his ground and cultivate to keep the surplus away 
from the surface, but in such shape that the plants can 
draw upon it. 

The illustrations on the opposite page are photo- 
graphs of an experiment to bring about the value of 
plowing in July for fall wheat. This land was a light, 
sandy and gravelly river bottom loam poorly adapted to 
small grains. The farm was situated in the northern 
part of Indiana. The field treated in this manner showed 
an increase of twenty per cent, over the rest of the field 
which was plowed early in September in the ordinary 
manner. The seeding and fertilizing over the entire field 
were exactly alike. 

No. 1 The field plowed on July 18. Observe the foul condition of 
the unplowed ground. It is full of milk weeds and dock- 
No. 2 Later in the day the disk harrow and pulverizer were called 
into play to put the seed bed in shape. 

No. 3 Observe that the weeds are buried deep in the furrow and the 
disked and rolled section is compacted away from the unplowed section 
showing that the seed bed is compact from top to bottom. 

No. 4 Photograph taken June 25, the following year. The portion 
of the field plowed, disked and rolled. Observe the lack of milk weeds 
and dock- 
No. 5 A few of the wheat heads selected at random from the field 
shown in No. 4. These heads produced twenty per cent, more per acre. 

No. 6 The section of the field that was plowed and harrowed in the 
ordinary manner. Observe the appearance of milk weeds. This section 
was photographed the same day as the field shown in No. 4. 

No. 7 A few of the heads selected at random from the portion of the 
field shown in No. 6. Observe how much bigger and better the heads 
are in No. 5. 


Corn also requires in the vicinity of three thousand 
degrees of heat to complete the crop from start to finish. 
Anyone can readily see that if three thousand degrees 
of heat were applied in one stroke to the field what would 
happen to the corn. This amount of heat must be 
scattered over the period through which the corn grows. 

This heat has to do with the development of plant 
food, its conservation, and the ability of the corn plant 
to partake of that food. It also has to do with the 
amount of moisture that falls and is consumed. Unless 
ground is in physical condition for heat to work to the 
best advantage in doing its labor and also to enable 
plant food to develop as the plants need it a maximum 
crop cannot be grown regardless of how fertile the land 
may be. 

A study of soil conditions has revealed that ground, 
mellow and friable, to a depth of at least six inches is 
required at the start for bringing about the condition 
mentioned. Seven and eight inches have proven to be 
better. This naturally means that this portion of the 
ground cannot be full of large and coarse dead vegetation 
in a half decayed form because it interferes with the 
upward trend of moisture which is necessary if the corn 
plant is to receive the proper amount of moisture by 
capillarity for the manufacture of plant food. 

It naturally follows from this that ground covered 
with dead vegetation for planting corn should be plowed 
deep and the vegetation buried deep in the ground so as 
to interfere as little as possible with the upward trend of 

It is particularly desirable in spring plowing to bury 
this trash deep enough so that it will not pull out and 
interfere with after cultivation. Burying cornstalks 


deep in the corner of the furrow places them where they 
will do the least possible damage in the way of interfering 
with capillary attraction, where they do not interfere with 
after cultivation and in the right place to decay in the 
soonest possible time, because the water trickling down 
between the furrow slices has an easy approach to them. 

The oat requires 504 tons of water or 4.45 acre inches 
to grow a ton of dry substance, and approximately 2,100 
degrees of heat. The plant food elements that enter 
the make-up of the oat do not require so much heat for 
their manufacture as those of the corn plant. This has 
led to the statement that oats do not require heat and 
also that oats do best in a moist and relatively cool cli- 
mate. It naturally follows that if the seed bed is put in 
condition for the successful manufacture and liberation 
of plant food as the plants need it and the ground kept in 
shape so that it will always be relatively cool during the 
growth of the oat plant, one does not have to worry 

about the cool climate. 

We often hear that an oat crop should be planted as 
early in the spring as possible and that an early frost 
clipping the green plant does not do any real damage. 

The real reason why scientists advocate the early 
planting of oats is on account of the cool condition of the 
ground necessary for the development of this plant. 

Plowing for oats brings up an interesting question and 
one that every oat grower can ponder upon with profit. 

Is it necessary to plow for oats or can the ground be 
disked and a good crop grown? 

We hear diversified opinions as to the results. One 
year farmers maintain that plowing increases their 


crops abundantly and another year they contend that 
disking without plowing produces a better crop. Back 
of it all is this one fundamental fact the ground which 
was in the proper condition for the growing of the oats 
grew the best crop. 

How is one to tell whether to disk or plow for an oats 
crop? It is not so hard if one stops to consider two 
fundamental facts. The first is that moisture keeps 
the ground from readily warming in the early spring; 
the second, it keeps the ground cool in the hot summer 

The seed bed must be made so as to warm the ground 
as early as possible in the spring and keep it cool during 
the warmer weather. To do this naturally means that 
the ground must be put in condition to conserve the 
water and prevent the ground from running together in 
a plastic condition in the spring of the year. 

If the winter has been very severe and the ground full 
of frost, this condition may be brought about by merely 
disking in the spring because freezing expands the soil 
particles, leaving them loose after thawing. If, on the 
other hand, one waits until spring to plow, and the 
spring should be late, he may be losing time that ought 
to be consumed by the plants in growing because the 
plants should get all the growth they possibly can 
before the warmer days that are coming. If the ground 
for oats is left cloddy, half pulverized, it cannot grow a 
good crop of oats, and on the other hand, if the disking 
is done when it is hard below the surface a good crop of 
oats cannot be grown unless Nature is very propitious 
with hard rains and cool weather, but, however the work 
is done, the ground must be in the proper shape for 


percolation of the moisture downward in the spring, and 
its upward trend by capillarity later in the season. 

These two illustrations should show the importance 
of paying the closest attention to plowing at the right 
time. The same laws hold true of any crop. 


Plowing to Kill Insects 

L3 LOWING to kill insect pests is a most important 
job for every farmer. It is the ounce of prevention 
worth the pound of cure in the pest evil. 1 1 kills insects be- 
fore they can do harm, and the cost is nothing. There is no 
farm in the length and breadth of the land that is not 
some time or other afflicted with insect pests of the most 
ruinous type. One must not expect that all kinds of 
insects can be killed with the plow. Most of those 
which commit the greatest depredations can be eradi- 
cated with the use of the plow. However, before one 
can put insect pests out of business effectively he must 
know and understand the life and characteristics of the 
pests just exactly as he must know the life and character- 
istics of plants and weeds. 

The most effective methods for getting rid of pests 
are to break up the breeding places, starve them to 
death and make impossible the hatching of insect eggs. 
These three methods can be successfully worked by the 
use of the plow if the work is done at the right time 
and the ground cultivated to keep down all green growth. 

It is generally agreed among our entomologists that 
there never would have been such inroads of insect pests 
in the field had it been plowed at the right time of the 
year so as to cover the trash deep in the furrow. Leav- 
ing stubble, such as grain, corn stalks, cotton stalks, etc., 
on the surface affords the most propitious protection for 


insect pests that feed upon these plants. Year after 
year they continue to thrive. 

All insect pests that can be killed with plowing pass 
the winter either in the trash on the surface of the 
ground or burrow down below the frost line. The pests 
that burrow down below the frost line are usually in the 
larva or grub state. Those that stay on the surface in 
the trash are mostly full grown insects. 

The stumpy ground, the poor covering of trash, and unevenly plowed 
ground, are conditions favorable to the growth of insects. 

The numberless varieties of weevils afflicting the south 
usually pass the winter without food in the rubbish near 
their feeding ground. They start hibernating at the 
first frost and quickly come out as the weather warms 
and then they return as it cools. Weevils do not lie in 
green rubbish nor do they seem to possess any sort of 
instinct as to how and where to go to find the cotton fields. 
Strong winds blow them many miles. Standing stalks 
of all kinds in infested fields furnish the most favorable 
conditions for the hibernation of weevils. Obviously if 



these fields are plowed, as soon as possible after the crop 
has been harvested, deep enough so that the stalks will 
not appear above the ground and the surface of the field 
kept clean there is not much opportunity for a weevil to 
survive in that place. All the neighbors doing this kind 
of plowing, cutting down weeds and grass in the fence 
corners and burning them, seeing to it that the trash 
and surface vegetation near the cotton fields have all 
been burned, aid very materially in reducing the boll 
weevil pest. 

An entirely different sort of plowing is necessary to 
get rid of the white grub. The white grub is lazy, that 
is he will stay on the surface of the ground as long as he 

Contrast this field and plowing with that shown on page seventy -three. 
The thorough covering of cotton stales and the mellow condition of the 
soil mean that this farmer is giving his crop the best start possible. 


can and gradually work his way downward as the 
weather gets cooler. The white grub lives for the most 
part in timothy meadows. The question that confronts 
the farmer is whether he wants to use the meadow for 
pasture in the fall, plow the ground the following spring 
and run chances of having the grubs destroy his corn, or 
plow to get the grubs. After they have attained their 
full growth they are nothing more or less than the 
common May beetle or June bug. 

These four white grubs were found in a square foot of timothy sod. 
When anyone learns their characteristics it is a comparatively easy 
matter to keep them from doing a great amount of harm. 

The time to plow to thoroughly get rid of white grubs 
is when the grubs begin to bury themselves in the 
ground. Plowing the ground at that period and turning 
all the hogs, chickens and turkeys into the field to feast 
on these grubs will rapidly diminish their number. If 
the plowing is done late enough frost helps in the killing. 

The proper remedy for getting rid of the Hessian fly 
is first to plow immediately after harvest, burying the 
stubble as deep in the ground as possible and to keep 
the surface of the ground well cultivated so as to elimi- 


nate lumps and clods to produce a finely compacted and 
moisture conservation seed bed. This process destroys 
all volunteer plants which may grow and furnish a 
means for propogating the fly. The principal step in 
this process is to plow deep and cover all the trash. 

The crooked furrow, if the ground is trashy, is propitious for insect 
breeding. It is impossible to always plow the proper width of cut and 
as a result the furrows are not laid properly to cover the trash, and keep 
the ground from drying out rapidly. Trash and air vents in the ground 
are good incubators for insect eggs. The two combined keep out moisture, 
the greatest hinder ance to insect eggs hatching. 

Cutworms, like white grubs, live in soil that has been 
in grass for a number of years. Meadows infested with 
cutworms should be plowed early the previous fall. The 
earlier in the fall the ground is plowed the less probability 
that the cutworm moths will have laid their eggs, con- 
sequently the injury from cutworms the following year 
will be diminished. Late fall and winter plowing is not 
so effective as early fall plowing for the eradication of 
the cutworm. 


Land infested with billbugs should always be plowed 
in the late summer or early fall. Plowing at this time 
breaks up the winter lodging of the bugs. A study of 
the life of billbugs shows that they also live on many 
different types of grasses. Therefore, it is necessary for 
the eradication of the billbugs to plow infested grass 
fields lying next to the other ground. 

These instances are citations to show the necessity for 
studying the habits and f characteristics of insect life 
before one can successfully combat it with the use of 
the plow. The loss that is sustained by farmers on 
account of the destruction of such bugs as the boll 
weevil, white grub, wireworm, grasshopper, Hessian fly, 
cutworm, army worm, etc., is estimated by some authori- 
ties in excess of five billion dollars annually. 

To kill some of these insects it is necessary to plow the 
ground while other very important tasks occupy the 
attention of the farmer. The necessity for a means to 
do this work at the proper time arises. The solution of 
the problem lies in the means the farmer has in his hands 
for doing this work when the time comes. 

A great deal has been said about crop rotation for the 
control of insect pests. All this is good but the first 
thing in the eradication of bugs of any kind whatsoever 
is to plow the ground thoroughly, seeing to it that all 
trash is buried deep, leaving none on the surface. Of 
all types of insects that can be eradicated by plowing it 
is far better to turn the stubble under immediately after 
the crop has been harvested than to burn it. All of this 
trash represents a vast amount of fertility that has been 
taken from the soil, and is much better for the ground 
if it can be put back as humus. The best and most 



Cultivating orchards helps to faeef> the farm rid of many bad insect 
pests that hibernate in such places during the winter as well as keeping 
the weeds and grass from consuming plant food that should be utilized 
by the trees in developing good fruit. When we learn to keep weeds 
down and trash burned on all parts of the farm our insect troubles will 
begin to disappear. 

effective time to bury trash for the eradication of bugs 
is when it produces the best humus. 

Dry vegetation buried in the ground is harder to rot 
than green. The rotting of this vegetation helps along 
in the destruction of insect eggs so that the work is com- 
plete. It is a self-evident fact that if there is enough 
fertility and the soil particles are arranged so that 
fermentation is taking place in all parts of the seed bed 
it is impossible for insect eggs to hatch, hence the 
desirability of plowing under this vegetation while it is 
in a gieen state. 


Plowing to Kill Weeds 

WEEDS, like the proverbial poor relations, are always 
with us, and they always will be. The damage done 
by weeds is roughly estimated at one billion dollars per 
year. It can be easily diminished to a very small sum 
if proper precautions are taken. One must study the 
habits and characteristics of weeds for their destruction 
in the same way that he must study the habits and 
characteristics of the plant that he desires to grow. 
Nature acts upon the principle of the survival of the 
fittest. Therefore, the farmer must till his land to 
bring about a condition that gives the crop he intends 
to grow the advantage. He can hardly expect to do 
this unless he understands the characteristics of both. 

It would require an immense volume to treat the 
peculiarities and habits of all weeds and how they can 
be eradicated, and if a volume were written, in six weeks 
it would not be complete because Nature is constantly 
bringing forth new varieties of weeds with considerable 
less gusto than man produces new varieties of grains. 
For this reason farmers must not always expect to find 
the answers to their queries written in a book. Indeed, 
they will seldom be found there because climatic con- 
ditions have just as much effect upon weeds as they have 
upon legitimate plants. Nature does not distinguish 
between the two. The distinguishing is done by people 
whose existence depends upon the food qualities of the 
plants they desire to cultivate. 


A most vital reason why one should understand the 
characteristics of weeds before attempting to eradicate 
them is because plowing has a tendency to cultivate 
certain types of weeds rather than kill them. Sorrel 
and quack grass are two very common examples of this 
type. All types of weeds that put forth a new sprout 
from any root joint can be eradicated by plowing if the 
ground plowed has the benefit of after treatment that 
will keep the stems from becoming exposed to the sun- 
light. The reason is the stems receive their nourish- 
ment from the leaves which are exposed to the sunlight. 
If it is possible to keep the top growth down so the leaves 
cannot absorb the necessary light for sustenance the 
plant naturally starves to death. 

Those surface root weeds which can be quickly killed 
by cutting or burying in the ground do not cause much 

The three great rules to observe are first, prevent 
weeds from going to seed; second, prevent weed seeds 
from being sown on the farm; and third, prevent all 
weeds from making a top growth. 

Farmers must not expect to keep their weeds down in 
the field when they permit them to grow in fence corners, 
along road sides, in pastures and other uncultivated 
fields because these seeds are carried by the wind, birds, 
water, and animals to all parts of the field where they 
are ready for a new start and in very favorable condition 
for germination and growth. 

Our scientists tell us that annual weeds, those which 
grow from the seed each year, may be eradicated by any 
method which starts germination and then destroys the 
plant before it produces seed. Biennial weeds, or those 
that live two years between the germinating of the seed 
and the maturity of the plant, require an entirely dif- 



A field plowed in July so as to completely bury the weeds in a corner 
of the furrow. Wheat was planted in the fall. 

The following year this wheat crop was harvested without any of the 
weeds turned under the precious fall appearing in this stubble. 



Result of a portion of a field plowed with the combined rolling coulter 
and jointer attached to the plow. 

ferent treatment. The habit of cutting the tops of 
these plants is not always the most desirable method 
because very many of them will put out new leaves and 
produce seeds, consequently, if the cutting method is 
practiced the tops must be cut sufficient times during the 
season to prevent the plants going to seed. Perennial 
weeds, or those that grow from the roots, are the most 
difficult to handle. A method of cultivation that will 
expose the roots to the surface, and prevent them start- 
ing growth is the most successful. 

In all these different types of weeds one striking fact 
stands out. That is both weed and legitimate plants 
require the gases from the air which must come in 
through the leaves and stem. This being true the first 
course in the destruction of weeds is to prevent this food 



A portion of the field shown on page eighfy-two plowed with the same 
plow without the combined rolling coulter and jointer. These tall 
weeds were thick all offer the field when the ground was plowed prepar- 
atory to growing this crop. 

assimilating process. It is a difficult task to attempt to 
do this work by hand in large fields. The work must be 
done with tillage implements.. 

The first step is to fall plow as deeply as it is possible 
for the plow to operate. The deeper the weed seeds are 
turned under the better. Every leaf, stem, and all the 
seeds must be turned to the bottom of the furrow. For 
this reason it is unwise to disk such ground in the fall 
before plowing it. Experiments have been tried which 
proved beyond a question of a doubt that the action of 
the disk harrow in ground of this kind has a tendency to 
sow the seed rather than eradicate it, while leaving the 
surface of the ground unmolested and turning all surface 
trash completely under with a plow has rid a field of all 
classes of weeds. 



A field of tall weeds being turned under with a plow having a com- 
bined rolling coulter and jointer attached. 

The combined rolling coulter and jointer for this work 
is the most valuable addition to the plow. This device 
turns all the surface trash and weeds into the lower 
* right-hand corner of the furrow. Turning them under 
deep in this manner means that the new shoots which 
the seed will send forth take additional strength and 
nourishment from the root system before they can reach 
the surface. This growth impoverishes the root, thus 
the growth is retarded and the weeds' vitality weakened. 

If the plowing has been done at the right time in the 
fall the winter's freezing will come along and kill the 
tender plants. If the weeds are of a variety that will 
come up very soon after plowing, the infested field 
should be plowed early in the fall and when the weeds 
come to the surface and begin developing leaves, surface 
cultivating of the ground with the weeder or disk harrow 



77ie identical spot in the picture shown on page eighty-four taken the 
following year. This field had no hand cultivation, simply that of a 
one-row horse cultivator. None of the varieties of weeds turned under 
appeared in this field. 

will immediately destroy the weeds. The great trouble 
with unsuccessful practices of this kind has been the 
failure to carry the after work through carefully enough 
to kill all sprouting weeds. Quack grass has been suc- 
cessfully eradicated by this method but the operator 
did not permit a single leaf or stem to develop. In one 
instance the farmer, after plowing, kept up this cultiva- 
ting operation from spring until fall. He wanted to 
plant corn on that field but his greater ambition was to 
kill the quack grass, so he kept cultivating until fall and 
sowed the field to fall wheat, reaping a much better crop 
than he would have had he planted corn, and he entirely 
rid the field of quack grass. 

The secret of his success lay in the fact that he kept the 
stems and leaves from drinking in the sunlight to sustain 
the roots. The result was the root system started to 
rot as it will do with all weeds just exactly as it does 
with other plants. 



Sectional view showing weeds buried in the lower corner of the 
furrow deep enough to prevent their getting a good growth in the fall 
before the winter's freezing will fall them. If the same plowing were 
done in the spring the crops planted above would sprout and grow before 
the weeds could get a start. 

In this weed killing process a farmer may often be 
obliged to choose between the loss of his ground for a 
year or the growth of such a crop as he can expect to 
raise in a weedy field. 

*This reference means when right-hand plows are used. When left-hand plows 
are used the weeds should be in the lower left-hand corner. 


Plowing Under Green Manure 

ONE is often troubled as to the proper time to plow 
under a green manure crop. The answer centers 
around the quickness with which a crop is desired. 

It is common knowledge that a green plant turned 
under will rot quicker than one that has reached maturi- 
ty, and is in a dry condition when plowed. Evidently 
then, the time, if quick results are desired, is to plow 
when the crop is in a green state. 

Scientists tell us that the best time to plow under a 
green crop, if it is clover or some other legume, is just 
before the blossom shows signs of turning. The reason 
is the stems and leaves are in the green, or sugar state 
and contain more of the plant food elements than the 
crop that has not reached this period of growth. Plow- 
ing under a green crop any later than this means that 
the plant has reached a fibrous and starchy condition 
and is much harder for moisture to dissolve. Obviously 
more time will be required to reach a state when fer- 
mentation can set in. 

The clover plant moves much of the sugar from the 
leaves and stems into the roots and stores it there in the 
form of starch for the winter. In this condition clover 
is more resistant to decay, consequently, when plowed 
late in the fall there may not be enough time for the 
plant to decay before the crop is planted. For this 
reason it is always advisable to plow clover under in 


the green state. Regardless of the time of the year that 
plowing is done, decomposition will proceed faster if the 
matter plowed under is always green. Hence, the ideal 
time for plowing under a crop of green manure would be 
to do the plowing at a time of the year when the crop is 

If the location is such that there is a scant supply of 
rainfall a heavy green manure crop plowed under after 
it reaches the starchy stage can ruin the following crop. 
It has been known to do so in a great many cases al- 
though it is a question whether the farmer, whose crops 
were ruined, understood the reason for it. 

To cut a heavy crop and leave it lying loose on the 
ground before turning it under loses an immense amount 
of organic matter. The principal object of plowing 
under green manure is to put organic matter into the 
soil, hence there is nothing gained by plowing under 
vegetation if it is mowed and left standing on the field. 
It is far better to plow under the green crop without 
cutting it. In this way all the organic matter is placed 
in the soil in the proper condition. 

Spring plowing of rye sown in the early previous fall 
is apt to cause trouble in the clay soils if the field is 
pastured in the early spring and the ground happens to 
be wet and later on when desiring to plow, the weather 
turns off dry, because the ground is packed hard and 
will not break into a friable condition. If rye is per- 
mitted to grow until late in the spring and then plowed 
under it is very likely to break up capillary connection 
with the sub-surface and keep the ground so that it will 
interfere very seriously with the crop from feeding on 
what nourishment already is in the ground. 


A problem arises when plowing stubble with the idea 
of making fertilizer out of it when the ground is so dry 
and hard that there is little opportunity for enough 
moisture to come up from below to rot the stubble 
turned under. Since moisture is the only means to rot 
this turned over stubble it is absolutely necessary to 
bring about a condition in the ground whereby moisture 
can come up from below. Obviously then, plowing 
should be done to see that the trash is buried as deeply 
as possible on the bottom of the furrow in such a way as 
to interfere as little as possible with the upward trend of 

Fertilizer crops of all kinds must always be plowed 
under with the idea of their becoming well rotted and 
decayed before the crop is planted. 

If the soil which the farmer desires to turn under is of 
a loose, ashy-like composition and the rolling coulter 
will not cut through the .vegetation, a condition is met 
which is exceedingly difficult to handle. 

Soil of this kind is always lacking in humus. The 
time that one usually desires to plow these fields is when 
they are dry and in the ashy condition. If a strict 
watch is kept upon the rainfall, and the ground should 
be moist at the plowing depth during the growing period 
of the cover crop, the ground can be plowed when the 
moisture is sufficient to hold the soil together. Every 
man is the best judge of his own farm in this respect. 

The reason for the ground being in the dry and ashy 
condition is its lack of organic matter or humus. 

The purpose of growing the green manure crop is to 
put this organic matter into the soil. If the plowing is 
improperly done and the crop poorly plowed under the 



Burying fertilizer at this depth, ten inches in the ground, will do a 
grain crop planted on the surface little or no good. Buried in this manner 
manure will not stop the upward trend of moisture to any extent but if it 
were scattered across the furrow bottom as is usually done the upward 
trend of moisture would be stopped sufficiently to ruin a crop in a dry year. 

greatest good cannot be secured from the cover crop. 
This ashy condition cannot exist if the soil contains a 
great quantity of organic matter, hence the very purpose 


plowing under green clover is to accomplish is defeated 
unless it is thoroughly covered when plowing. 

The principal reason why farmers mow green crops 
before plowing them under is because of their inability 
to successfully cover them with the plow. With the advent 
of the combined rolling coulter and jointer this difficulty 
is overcome. This attachment on a plow will turn 
under the rankest growth of green vegetation more 
efficiently than dry vegetation can be turned under in 
the ordinary manner. 


Judging Plowing 

WHEN one considers that different soils must be 
plowed in a manner to accomplish the desired 
results, it becomes self-evident that it is impossible to 
lay down a certain set of laws or rules to determine what 
constitutes prize plowing. The most beautiful job of 
plowing on the surface is not proof that the ground 
will grow the best crop. 

Before a perfect job of plowing can be done the fol- 
lowing requirements must be fully met. 

Each furrow must be straight from end to end. 

Back furrow must be slightly raised and all trash 

The top lines of the furrows must be uniform without 
breaks or depressions. The top of the furrow may be 
slightly ridged. Ground must be thoroughly pulver- 
ized from the top to the bottom of the furrow; no air 
spaces anywhere in the furrow slices. 

Trash must not be visible in the line of furrow and 
should be buried in the lower right-hand corner of the 

Furrows must be uniform compared one with another. 

The depth of all furrows must be the same and con- 
tinue a uniform depth. 

Dead furrows must be free from unturned ground. 

The above rules are recognized as the standard by 
which plow contests are judged. It is obvious that 



This picture of fall plowing and the two following were taken in the 
same field, on the same day, the different appearances of the soil being 
caused by the curvature of the mouldboards of the plows doing the work- 
The soil was a clay loam. If the ground were to be left as plowed 
through the winter it is obvious that this kind of plowing would be 
better than either of the other two because being rough it would not 
run together and become compacted by the spring thaws and rains. 

This field can be easier worked into a seed bed than that shown above 
but not so easily as that shown on page ninety-four, hence it would not be 
regarded so good plowing for spring planting or immediate seeding as 
the other two. 


// this ground is to be seeded immediately it is plainly apparent that 
it can be worked into an ideal seed bed much quicker than the two fields 
shown on page ninety-three. However, if this ground is to be left for 
spring planting and the locality happens to be one where there is a great 
deal of snow and rainfall, the ground may have to be replowed on 
account of the extreme mellowness making it apt to run together. 

plowing to fulfill these requirements would not be so 
good for crop growing in some sections as another type 
of plowing that would far from fill these requirements. 
Hence, it would be much better for those who are 
deciding plowing contests to judge the quality of work 
in accord with the results expected of the plowing. 

Plowing being done primarily for growing crops it 
would seem logical that the rules of plowing contests 
should be worded so as to promote the kind of plowing 
that will produce the best crops on the ground being 
plowed. Sod plowing should not be judged as stubble 
plowing; plowing for wheat should not be judged the 
same as plowing for corn, etc. 

The second rule, back furrow slightly raised and all 
trash covered, is a good one to follow in clay and loam 
soils. It is easy to understand how these requirements 


This picture shows a job of plowing in a sandy loam soil. The 
furrows are even in width and depth and laid to make an evenly plowed 
field. The back, furrow is not raised enough so that it can be detected 
from the other furrows. 

This plowing won the first prize at a plowing contest. The soil was 
of an exceedingly clayey nature, entirely different from the soil in the 
field illustrated above, yet the plowing is very similar. The field shown 
above Was plowed in the spring, while this field was plowed in the fall. 

would utterly fail in plowing sandy soils on account of 
their loose construction. As a matter of fact, the leveler 
sandy soils are left on the surface, providing the surface 


is loose, the less moisture escapes from them. Hence, 
from a practical standpoint the plow bottom that leaves 
sandy soils level after plowing is better for the soil than 
one that leaves it ridged or crowned. 

A much better way to judge plowing is to take a spade 
or some other sharp cutting instrument into the field 
and see what is happening at the bottom of the furrow. 
If there are large air spaces and clods the plowing is 
certainly poor from a crop producing standpoint. If the 
bottom of the furrow is covered with trash so that the 
upward trend of capillarity is interfered with it is also 
equally bad plowing. 

Plowing is good when the furrow slice is well pulver- 
ized from top to bottom, large air spaces eliminated, 
and the trash buried to interfere as little as possible 
with the upward trend of moisture. 


Plow Bottoms 

PHE bottom is the business end of the plow. Upon 
1 its performance depends the quality of the seed bed 
the farmer can prepare. Since the quality of the seed bed 
determines very largely the start a crop gets it is obvious 
that a plow bottom is the vital part of a farmer's equip- 
ment. All the rest of the plow is merely for the purpose 
of enabling the operator to make the bottom work 

When one reflects upon what has been said in 
Chapter V about different soil compositions, the 
effect of humus, lack of humus, fertility, moisture, air 
and heat upon plant growth the reason why one must 
use a plow bottom adapted to that particular kind of 
soil becomes plain. 

Manufacturers have not yet been able to make any 
one bottom that can be adapted to all these different 
types of soil. This explains why farmers who have sand 
and clay soils should have both chilled and steel bottoms 

with entirely different shaped mouldboards. 

Plow builders are doing their utmost to design bot- 
toms that will approach the best work in all conditions 
under which farmers plow. They have been remarkably 
successful in building bottoms that will plow excep- 
tionally well in all types of soils that have one or more 
common characteristics but when the demarkation is 
too pronounced it is necessary to change the shapes of the 
mouldboards in order to properly stir the soil. 


A knowledge of what constitutes good plowing is 
necessary before one can judge whether the bottom is 
particularly adapted to that soil. It does not matter 
what type of soil a farmer is tilling, the conditions 
necessary for plant growth must be the same. The 
soil must be well pulverized and properly compacted so 
that air and moisture can mingle in every particle and 
recess at all times, whether the soil is sand, clay, loam, 
muck, or any other. 

It is reasonable to assume, in view of the entirely 
different characteristics of soil, that clay would be 
broken into clods with the same type of mouldboard 
which successfully pulverizes sand. 

The plow bottom is nothing more or less than a three 
sided wedge. The cutting edge of the share and landside 
are flat sides of the wedge. The mouldboard and upper 
portion of the share are curved and made to invert the 
earth. The curvature and length of the mouldboard 
have to do with the pulverization of the soil. 

The bluffer the mouldboard is the more rapidly it will 
pick up the earth and turn it over. For this reason all 
types of plow bottoms that are used in plowing the 
looser soils are naturally bluffer than those used in 
plowing soils that stick together such as clay. It 
obviously follows from thes"e two extremes that the 
types of mouldboards used for plowing loamy soil must 
lean more toward the bluff as sand predominates and 
toward the longer curve as clay predominates. 

There are countries where it is necessary to plow clay 
soils when they are wet because of excessive rainfall and 
no frost. This calls for a peculiarly shaped plow bottom 
that is not very well understood in other sections of the 


world. This soil is nearly always of a waxy, putty 
nature and holds water much the same as an earthen 
basin. For this reason tiling or draining has never been 
successful, hence a plow bottom to successfully turn this 
soil must turn a furrow well over, yet let it stand on a 
corner of the furrow slice and leave small crevices or 
sub-surface ditches on the bottom between each furrow. 
This gives excellent drainage so that the sharp top 
corner of the furrow can soon dry and crumble, leaving 
a few inches of soil on the surface that can be worked 
to bring about the condition necessary for the right 
mixture of air and moisture for plant growth. 

Prairie sod is full of grass roots and decayed vegeta- 
tion. This ground is plowed to start the decaying of 
grass as rapidly as possible. The ultimate object of 
such plowing, of course, is to put the ground in a con- 
dition of tilth for the successful growing of crops. The 
rotting of the grass being the first step the sod should be 
plowed to bring this about in the quickest possible time. 
In most soils the complete reversing of the sod is sup- 
posed to smother the stems and leaves of the grass so 
they rot and decay very rapidly. This must be done 
in a way to prevent new stems from springing up. 

The success of this process depends upon plowing the 
ground at a season of the year when there is moisture 
enough to start rapid decay or a much longer time than 
should be necessary will be consumed in the complete 
decomposition of the sod. The discussion on capillary 
water explains why this is necessary. 

The thing to remember is that regardless of the kind 
of grass the plant must be prevented from putting forth 
new stems and leaves which, as is mentioned in a pre- 
vious chapter, all plants will do when air and moisture are 



permitted to mingle in such a way that the root system 
can put forth new stems. Hence, the ideal system for 
plowing sod is to see that all portions of the grass plant 
are completely buried and the ground packed as closely 
around these leaves as it is possible to do in order that 
sunlight may be kept away from the turned over leaves. 

One can rest assured that if there is a possible ray of 
sunlight peeping through the turned furrow where the 
leaf of wild and native prairie grass lies the blade of 
grass will grow through that hole, hence the furrow slice 
should be thick enough to keep out sunlight and air. 
If this is done effectively shallow root crops such as flax 
can be planted and they will act as an aid in the final 
breaking up of the sod structure. 

Illustration E 

The kind of plowing the bottom illustrated above does. Observe the 
furrow slice is laid over flat to keep all the air and light away from the 
leaves and stems of the grass. 


Special plows are required for this purpose. The 
shape of the share and mouldboard is such that the 
furrow is turned over disturbing its composition as 
little as possible. Illustration E shows this type of 

The other influencing factor in reference to shapes of 
mouldboards is sticky soils that do not have enough 
body to hold together to give the amount of pressure 
necessary to force the dirt off the mouldboard. Natur- 
ally, in designing plows for work in this type of soil the 
mouldboards and shares are designed to crumble the 
soil as little as possible. The curvature is less pro- 
nounced than in any other type of plow bottom. 

There are various ways of explaining the crumbling 
and crushing influences upon the earth as it passes over 
the mouldboard, but a very simple explanation is found 
in observing the distance that the top and bottom of the 
furrow slice travel in the process of being picked up and 
turned over. 

It is obvious that the bottom of the furrow slice 
travels a much longer distance when being inverted than 
the top or stubble side. This process of inverting the 
furrow means breaking up the earth into particles. 
Whether these particles are broken into larger or 
smaller clods depends upon the tenacity with which they 
stick together andj^the shape of the mouldboard for 

The broad principle employed in shaping the curva- 
ture of mouldboards is one that will cause the soil 
granules to roll one upon another and thus break their 
cohesion. A closely textured soil, plowed while wet, 
increases the cohesions of the granules so that they will 
not fall apart in the act of plowing. Thus a mouldboard 

102. t %li e .^.THH. OLIVER PLOW BOOK 

that does a perfect job of plowing in soil that is in the 
proper condition for plowing will be ruinous to this soil 
when plowing it too wet. 

It is further obvious that those soils which must be 
plowed when wet require the use of a mouldboard that 
will break them as little as possible while being turned. 
This characteristic identifies those types of plow bot- 
toms used for plowing wet soils that do not have the 
benefit of the winter's freezing. 

The illustrations of the following plow bottoms will 
suffice to make clear the efforts being put forth to build 
bottoms suitable for all conditions. 

Illustration F 

Illustration F shows a steel base, general purpose 
bottom. By general purpose is meant a plow that will 
not only plow stubble, but also tame grass sods. The 
shape of this bottom is such that it scours in a great 
many varieties of soils. This bottom turns a furrow 
well over and leaves an even, well crowned furrow top. 
The types of soil in which this bottom gives the best 
satisfaction are the sandy and clay loam, and some waxy 
soils where scouring is a hard problem. This plow 
bottom is well adapted to heavy loam and gumbo soils, 



This ground was plowed with a bottom li^e the one shown in illustra- 
tion F. The characteristics of this bottom are plainly discernible in the 
plowed ground. 

provided the ground is not wet, or does not disintegrate 
or slack when it comes in contact with air. Whenever 
plowing ground where the furrow slices do not hold 
together well this shaped bottom can be safely used. 
On account of the shape and gradual turn of the mould- 
board it does an exceptional job of pulverizing. 

Illustration G 

Illustration G is a long, slow turn bottom particularly 
adapted to stiff clay soils and all classes of soils that 



f the plow bottom shown in illustration G. Observe that the 
ground is very finely pulverized and the few clods are flat. The surface 
of the ground is level; furrow crowning is imperceptible. The furrow 
bant^ is smooth, the bottom is well cleaned, leaving an ideal surface for 
the following bottom to lay the next furrow slice. 

have clay in their composition. This bottom thoroughly 
pulverizes clay if the soil is in a condition to be plowed. 
The shape of this mouldboard is such as to cause the 
earth to separate in layers rather than to break into 
lumps. It is distinctly noticeable in a field plowed with 
this bottom that the few clods left are always flat shaped 
and very frequently will fall into pieces when picked up. 
Naturally, a bottom that does this kind of work requires 
more power than one which does not pulverize the 
ground as effectively. 



Illustration H 

Illustration H is a general purpose bottom made 
specifically for work in all types of clay and sandy loam 
that are hard to penetrate. It is also the most desirable 
bottom for use in these same types of soil full of 
gravel, cobblestones and shale or flat stone. This 
bottom is made with a narrow breast which permits the 

of the plow bottom as shown in illustration H. In view of 
the fact that it is necessary to aerate soils when they are being plowed a 
plow bottom to work in this type of soil must be designed to prevent stones 
from throwing it out of the ground the least number of times and when 
it is thrown out to penetrate quickly- This type of bottom does this work 
exceptionally well. 



use of a strong and well tapered share required for stony 
lands, consequently this bottom will penetrate this kind 
of ground and thoroughly stir it which is necessary if the 
oxygen in the air is to mix freely in the ground. This 
kind of plowing cannot be accomplished in these soils 
with an ordinary bottom. The narrow breast and the 
high delivery mouldboard insure the earth being well 
mixed in the process of plowing. 

Illustration I 

Illustration I is a general purpose bottom. This bot- 
tom is made to plow the volcanic ash soils that are found 

The work of the plow bottom shown in illustration I. Observe the 
deep furrow wall and the well turned furrow slices. 


in the northwestern section of the United States. In 
plowing these peculiar types of soils the farmer fre- 
quently desires to plow deep. This can be accomplished 
with this bottom. The shape of the mouldboard is 
curved so as to pulverize this type of soil exceptionally 

Illustration J 

The slat mouldboard gives less surface, hence less earth sticks. For 
this reason the slat bottom serves a good purpose. 

Illustration J shows a slat bottom. There are soils 
so sticky by nature that the ordinary plow bottom will 
not scour. These soils will not hold together sufficiently 
to give enough pressure against the mouldboard for 
scouring. The slat bottom eliminates a part of the 
mouldboard. Therefore, there is not so much surface 
to which the earth may stick. For this reason a slat 
bottom will scour and do a good job of plowing where a 
solid mouldboard entirely fails. These bottoms are also 
exceedingly useful for plowing black, waxy and clay 
soils in which an ordinary plow bottom fails to scour. 
The share is made with a comparatively straight edge 
to give a straighter cutting surface to the share. 



Illustration K 

Illustration K is a stubble bottom designed for use in 
waxy soils and the lighter prairie soils where scouring 
troubles prevail. This bottom is particularly adapted 
to work in those soils that have a tendency to stick to 
the mouldboard, but are rather loose in their composi- 
tion. For this reason the share and mouldboard are 
shaped to cause as little breaking of the soil as possible 
until it leaves the mouldboard. The furrow is turned 

A type of soil in which the above illustrated mouldboard is in common 
use. A glance at this picture is sufficient to show that the plowmaker's 
problem is a difficult one. 

slightly more than half over. On account of these 
features this bottom is not adapted to plowing sod. The 
unusually sharp point and narrow angle formed by the 
landside and share give this bottom great penetration, 



a feature which is absolutely necessary in the types of 
soil to which this bottom is adapted. The shape of the 
share and mouldboard is such that the earth exerts an 
even pressure upon the bottom from the time the share 
strikes it until it is turned over on the furrow side. 

Illustration L 

Illustration L depicts a bottom popularly known as a 
Scotch type and is for use in turning soils in those 
countries where clay land predominates and where rain- 
fall is excessive. The share is narrower than the mould - 

The work of the plow bottom shown in illustration L reveals that the 
earth is turned over with little or no pulverizing. This is necessary for 
underdraining and to give the furrow slice on top an opportunity to dry 
out so that it can be successfully tilled. 


board, consequently, a portion of the furrow is not cut 
entirely off. The mouldboard pushes the cut part of 
the furrow solidly against the preceding furrow, shaping 
the furrow to leave the top diamond shaped, and drain- 
age facilities on the bottom. 

Illustration M 

Illustration M shows a chilled bottom made for 
handling all kinds of gritty, sandy soils, and also clay 
lands that are not sticky. This bottom is made with a 
sloping landside. When the plow picks up the dirt to 
turn it over, the lower outside edge of the furrow slice 
acts as a fulcrum over which the furrow turns. When 
the furrow is raised into a position almost vertical the 
dirt falls of its own weight because there is nothing to 
prevent its downward motion. As the earth begins to 
fall it naturally crumbles, filling the lower portion of the 
furrow with loose pulverized soil. The advancing mould- 
board finishes the work by turning the rest of the 
furrow on top. 

This process of plowing is exceptionally good for 
sandy soils because it insures a thorough circulation of 
air in all parts of the furrow slice. Another advantage 
of the sloping landside is that the shin acts upon the 
earth very much in the same manner as a knife 
acts upon a piece of wood when operated with 

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a slanting cut. This also has a tendency to make 
the plow pull lighter in draft than a plow with a 
straight landside. 

These few illustrations serve to show that it is highly 
important to select a plow bottom for handling the soil 
the way it should be, and also that when any doubt 
exists to consult a plow expert before a radical change 
is made in bottoms. 

Generally speaking, the type of plow bottom that 
does the best work pulls the hardest because the old 
law that so much energy is required to produce a given 
amount of work is applicable to plow bottoms. Less 
power is required to break a clod into three parts than 
into a million. The breaking of earth into finer particles 
is highly important if the proper seed bed is to be 

Tests have been made which show that mouldboards 
curved to do the pulverizing require more energy or 
power than the bottoms which break the soil into 
clods. The four illustrations showing sectional views of 
plowing are the results of a test made purposely to deter- 
mine whether the plow bottom that did the best pul- 
verizing pulled heavier than the one that did the inferior 
grade of work. This test was made in a field of very 
heavy clay and sand not in a loamy combination. It 
had not rained for several weeks. All the tests were 
made in the morning of the same day in order that there 
should be as little change as possible in the moisture 
content of the ground. The only difference in the plow 
bottoms was in the shape of the mouldboards. Thus, the 
condition for all the plows was the same, the only dif- 
ferent contributing factor being the mouldboard. 



Figure 1 

Not e the thorough pulverization of the soil, the foot prints which show 
the dry condition, and the absence of air spaces. 

Figure 1 shows a job of plowing almost ideal. One 
would not expect it in soil as dry and hard as this but 
the plow pulled 14% heavier than the plow bottom 
which did the poorest work, or that shown in Figure 4. 

Figure 2 

This plowing is not so well pulverized as that shown in Figure I , but 
it could be regarded as a fairly good job of plowing dry soils. 

The plowing shown in Figure 2 is not so good as that 
Figure 1. The ground is not as finely pulverized. 
The plow bottom pulled 4% lighter. 




Figure 3 

The clods are larger than those shown in either of the two previous 
illustrations. The air spaces at the bottom of the furrow slice are more 
pronounced, and the furrow slice shows cloddy formations rather than 

The work in Figure 3 shows that the earth was 
turned up into clods. There is little pulverization. 
The bottom used in doing this work pulled 13% lighter 
than the one that did the work shown in Figure 1 . 

Figure 4 

Clods are larger than in Figure 3. The furrow slices are unevenly 
formed. They are merely larger clods intermingling with smaller ones 
and the finer soil particles. There is no indication of pulverization 
which is necessary for the proper aeration of the soil. 

The plowing done in Figure 4 shows the ground broken 
into large clods, little or no pulverization and very im- 
perfect furrow slices. This job required less power by 
1 4% than the one shown in Figure 1 . 


When one considers that the pulverization of the soil 
is vitally necessary in by far the greatest number of 
cases he will pay less attention to the draft of the bottom 
and more to its adaptability. Sufficient power should be 
used to do the work well. 

An experiment was made with the bottoms shown in 
illustrations F, G, K and M to determine just what effect 
different shaped mouldboards have upon the soil. This 
experiment was made in a field of clay soil thoroughly 
saturated with water. It was necessary to perform such 
an experiment with a soil that would hold together 
sufficiently to make observations. Wet clay is the best 
kind of soil for this purpose. 

These four types of plow bottoms are for use, as the 
descriptions read, in widely varying soils. The illus- 
trations of the work done by these bottoms in the soils 
for which they are adapted, when compared with these 
illustrations, must forcibly call attention to the impor- 
tance of selecting a plow bottom adapted to the soil. 
These experiments were conducted in the morning of the 
same day in order that the moisture content should be as 
nearly uniform as possible. 

These illustrations also show the relative work done by 
the share, mouldboard and landside in such a way as to 
call attention to the difficulty encountered in trying to 
establish a fixed center of draft that will serve as a guide 
for all shaped plow bottoms and soils. 

While this question would be more properly discussed 
in the chapters on plow hitches, these illustrations are so 
pertinent that the reader's indulgence for this deviation 
from good sequence is asked. 



The right-hand side of the furrow slice is laid on the furrow bottom 
in such a way that the forward travel of the mouldboard will give it a 
pinching, crushing motion to separate the soil particles. 

In the seventh paragraph of this chapter the plow 
bottom is referred to as a three-sided wedge. 

The mouldboard and upper part of the share form the 
curved wedge shape part which separates the soil parti- 
cles while turning them over. For the sake of clearness 
in this discussion the work of the plow bottom is divided 
into three parts: first, the share, cutting the furrow sole; 
second, the shin, cutting the furrow wall; third, the 
mouldboard, lifting, stretching, turning and compacting 
the furrow slice into an inverted position. 

The relative amount of work that the shin, the mould- 
board and the share do is exceedingly hard to figure. It 
is very doubtful whether an absolute center of draft can 



A section of the furrow shown in the illustration on page 116 cut 
farther forward, showing that the plow bottom has forced the furrow 
slice to conform to its shape, thereby beginning a stretching operation on 
the bottom of the furrow. Observe in the illustration on page 116 that 
after the furrow slice has reached the ground the freshly stretched 
furrow slice bottom is helping to put pressure against the top. 

A plow bottom which does not have the proper shape to force the 
furrow slice against its surface so that the pressure is equal on all parts 
of the plow bottom. This illustration shows the importance of having 
a plow bottom adapted to the soil. The shin is doing the greater part of 
the worfy. 



The work of this bottom shows remarkable adaptability to this type 
of soil. The squeezing, pinching motion of the mouldboard by forcing 
the furrow slice against the bottom of the furrow is plainly noticeable. 
This mouldboard is doing more work than the one illustrated on page 120. 

be determined for all conditions. Enough experimenting 
has been done to show that the center of draft can be 
approached closely enough for practical purposes. 

When once the center of draft has been determined it 
is obvious that the amount of work being done on all 
sides of this point must be equal in weight. Measuring 
the distance from this point to all the extremities of the 
mouldboard and share will give sufficient measurements 
to figure the percentages. The result will be close 
enough for all practical purposes. 



The furrow slice shown in the illustration on page 118 cut farther 
forward. The plow bottom forces the furrow slice against it in such a 
way that the complete furrow slice taJ^es on the curvature of the mould- 
board. This means a rearrangement of the soil particles from the top 
of the furrow slice to the bottom. 

Another way for determining the relative draft of the 
share and mouldboard is to remove the mouldboard from 
the plow, then start the plow in a furrow the proper 
width and depth previously prepared with the end of 
the furrow slice cut squarely, and the furrow wall the 
depth of the furrow far enough ahead for the experiment. 
A. dynamometer will show the relative lifting work done 
by the point and wing of the share. The plow must 
stop as soon as the earth has been lifted the height of 
the share. 

Putting the mouldboard back on the plow, and lifting 
the furrow slice which has been measured the proper 
width and cut the full depth until it is ready to drop into 
position, will obviously determine the amount of work 
required by the share and mouldboard. Subtracting 
the difference between this amount and that required by 



The furrow slice is being picked up and turned over very much as a 
cal^e of ice, without any perceptible pulverization of the ground. Observe 
that the bottom of the furrow slice does not rest against the furrow bottom 
except the loose particles that have broken off and have fallen down. 
Observe the center of draft on this plow is lower than the one shown on 
page 118. 

the share will give the amount of work done by the 
mouldboard. Using the entire plow without cutting the 
furrow wall gives the amount of work required by the 
shin to cut the furrow wall, the share, the sole, and the 
mouldboard to crush and invert the furrow. Experi- 
ments of this kind have been conducted with widely 
diversified results. 

A test was made using what is known as the Scotch 
type of plow bottom. The ground, clay sod, was being 
plowed six and one-half inches deep and eleven inches 
wide. The amount of work done by the share was forty 
per cent, of the total, the lifting and placing by the 
mouldboard, forty per cent, and cutting the furrow wall 
by the shin twenty per cent. 



The furrow slice the same as shown on page 120 cut farther forward. 
This furrow shows no indication of pulverization but a tendency to lift 
the slice from the start. 

Another experiment with an entirely different shaped 
bottom cutting six inches deep and fourteen inches wide 
revealed the following result. Thirty-three per cent, of 
the work was done by the share, forty-seven per cent, 
by the mouldboard, and twenty per cent, by the shin 
cutting the furrow wall. The type of soil in which the 
experiment was conducted was a clay loam sod. 

In both instances the draft of the plow was arranged 
so that there was no pressure of the landside against the 
furrow wall. 

The amount of work required of the landside is solely 
determined by the hitch. If the hitch is properly made 
there is little landside pressure because the land suck on 


A type of mouldboard which breads this wet clay soil into large clods. 
Notice the bluffness and the effect upon this soil. It ought not require 
any argument to show that this plow is not adapted to this type of soil. 
Breaking soil into clods is not plowing. 

the share and shin cuts away the earth, leaving the land- 
side free from coming in contact with the furrow wall. 
However, in actual practice this condition does not pre- 

It has been found that the pressure of the landside 
against the furrow bank caused by incorrect hitching 
increases the total draft of a plow bottom from fifteen to 
forty per cent., depending upon the kind of soil being 
plowed and the distance the hitch is away from the 
center line of draft. 

This statement with reference to the pressure of the 
landside immediately suggests the point, why have a 
landside on a plow if there should be no pressure against 
the furrow bank ? There must be some means for keep- 
ing the plow from swerving to one side whenever the 
share strikes some obstruction that causes a sudden 
shifting in the center of draft of the plow bottom. For 



In view of the fact that breaking the soil particles is necessary for 
the proper making of the seed bed, the question often confronts those who 
have stony ground as to how they can plow so that the bottom will pene- 
trate the ground immediately after the stone has been passed. The illus- 
tration shows how one farmer is accomplishing this work- On account 
of the rapidity with which this type of soil dries out it is highly im- 
portant that there be the fewest possible unplowed stretches of ground. 

example if a plow should strike a snag on the wing of 
the share the center of draft of the plow is suddenly 
changed to a point near the wing. The landside press- 
ing against the furrow wall holds the plow in its true 



Turning an in-corner has been practiced by farmers who have soils 
that should not be trampled any more than is necessary in the process of 
plowing. It is highly important that the furrow be turned so that the 
ground is plowed properly if the best results are to be obtained from this 

line until the obstruction is passed and the center of 
weight returns to its normal position. 

As a matter of fact, this condition is constantly taking 
place in the soil. The soil texture changes with every 
inch of travel and some means must be provided to take 
care of rapid and continuous changes. The shape and 
size of the landside have a great deal to do in this con- 
nection. Obviously there must be enough square inches 



This clay field is being plowed seven inches deep to permit moisture 
to escape. This field was tiled but on account of the imperciousness of 
the clay excessive water remains and it is necessary to plow in such a 
way that there is under-drainage. Contrast this type of plowing with 
that shown in the illustration below. 


When plowing sandy loam the great object is to stir the ground for 
aeration and leave it in such a manner that moisture will not unduly 
escape, thus the crowning of the furrows, noticeable in the illustration 
above, is entirely absent and the ground left as level as possible. These 
two illustrations are good evidences of the fact that plowmakers are 
striving to build bottoms that will do the soil the greatest possible good. 

of landside surface to prevent the plow gouging into the 
furrow wall and also to help keep the plow running level. 
On breaking plows the shallow furrow requires an ex- 



This method of laying the furrow when plowing sod insures the fewest 
possible air spaces and vents for the continued growth of the inverted 
grass blades. 

ceptionally long and narrow landside to give the required 
surface. On stubble and general purpose plows this 
surface can be acquired by giving more height and not 


One does not often see three different styles of plow bottoms on the 
same plow. These bottoms are all cutting the same width and the same 
depth but notice the difference in the delivery of the soil. The front plow 
bottom is doing the quality of work this soil requires. The other two 
are not the middle bottom doing better work than the rear one. The 
front bottom is the same as that shown in illustration G; the second, 
illustration F; the third, illustration K. Observe in the work f the 
front bottom that the soil is completely turned over and well pulverized 
and that the middle bottom turns the furrow over more completely than 
the rear one. 

so much length. In bottoms that are made for deep 
plowing more attention is given to the height of the 
landside than to the length because of the greater 
amount of work being done by the mouldboard. 

The amount of moisture in the ground, its looseness 
and compactness, and amount of stubble, trash, roots 
and sod are determining factors in the draft of plow 
bottoms. Too much moisture in the ground adds draft 
in the same manner as not enough moisture. Daily 
changes in moisture cause great changes in draft. 


Shallow plowing of sods puts more work on the share 
and less on the mouldboard. Deep plowing of sod 
lessens the work of the share and puts more work on the 
mouldboard. The same is true of stubble. 

The curvature of the upper part of the share, the 
mouldboard, and the angle of the mouldboard to the 
furrow slice have to do with the pulverizing qualities of 
the bottom as well as the draft. 

The increase in the speed of a plow in dry, hard 
plowing aids materially in better pulverization, but 
while it is doing better work it increases the power re- 
quired. A plow bottom shaped to do the proper work 
at a speed of two and one-half miles an hour will 
throw the dirt from two to three times as far when 
travelling at twice that rate of speed. 


Plow Bottom Metals 

THE farmer is often in doubt as to whether he should 
use a chilled or steel plow. A knowledge of chilled 
and steel metals as used in plows will enable a farmer 
to determine for himself which type of plow he needs. 

In steel plows of the best grade, the principal wearing 
parts, the mouldboards and shares, are made from what 
is known as soft center steel. This steel is composed of 
three layers fused together. The two outside layers are 
very high carbon to insure hardness. An extra hard 
finish or temper is necessary to make the plow scour. 
The center layer is of low carbon to impart toughness 
to prevent the breaking of the brittle outside layers. 

Steel plows thus made are successful for use in soils 
for which they are adapted. The mouldboard of a steel 
plow of the type described is only a quarter of an inch 
thick and the grinding and polishing necessary to finish 
the surface added to the natural wear, of course, wear 
away much of this thickness so that sometimes the soft 
center becomes exposed and the plow will no longer 
scour. For this there is no remedy and a new part is 

While steel plows are, as a rule, lighter in weight than 
the chilled, when it comes to the matter of draft the 
chilled plow is by far the lightest in any or all soils for 
which it is adapted. The draft of a plow is determined 
not so much by the shape of its mouldboard and style of 


share, as by the scouring qualities of the metal which 
enter into its construction. 

As a matter of fact, tests in draft of plows have been 
made in the agricultural departments of universities. 
These fsts have shown that chilled plows are lighter in 

fo process has yet been invented whereby steel can 
tempered hard enough to prevent sand and stones 
from deeply scratching the surface. Any farmer who has 
land that is sandy in places knows, if he uses a steel 
plow, that it refuses to scour after leaving the sandy 
parts and enters the black or sticky land. This is 
caused by the sand scratching the steel, leaving a feather 
edge that ruins the dirt polish and makes an obstruction 
to stop the shedding of the dirt. 

Anyone who has never had this feature called to his 
attention can observe the phenomenon by examining 
his plow the next time he plows a piece of land in that 
condition. This peculiarity of steel makes a steel plow 
an exceedingly poor implement to use in any soil that 
has sand, gravel or stones in it, because the plow wears 
out too soon. It is like using a razor to sharpen lead 
pencils too costly. 

There is a type of land that steel plows turn to good 
advantage and much better than chilled plows can, in 
fact, where chilled plows will not work at all. Light 
soils, loams free from sand, gravel, or stones, and black, 
waxy dirt can be handled most successfully with the 
steel plows, because they have in them the properties 
necessary to make the dirt polish on the mouldboard 
without scratching it. Wherever this condition prevails, 
steel plows are the most successful, but when grit is 
present the wear on the thin layer of hard steel on the 



The toft of a steel share is perfectly smooth and has as uniform hard- 
ness as it is possible to make. 

Plow gunnels with and without 
a piece of steel welded on the 
bottom for reinforcing the point. 
This metal is of the proper carbon 
content to help keep the point from 
wearing upward on the bottom. 
It is illustrative of the efforts put 
forth by plow makers to make steel 
shares as durable as possible. 
The projection on the edge of the 
gunnel gives a wider welding 
surface thereby making the share 

The bottom side of the share showing the position of the extra piece 
of steel on the finished product. This gives strength and additional wear. 


surface soon exposes the center which is so soft that it 
will not scour in any soil. 

Chilled plows are constructed by an entirely different 
process. When the mouldboard is properly made it has 
a flinty hardness that never has been duplicated in steel. 
This hardness enables a chilled mouldboard to much 
better withstand the scratching of sand, gravel, stones, 
etc. As a matter of fact, there is no scratching that will 
affect the scouring qualities of properly chilled metal. 

As a result the more a chilled mouldboard is operated 
in sandy soil the smoother it becomes, and the higher 
polish it takes. Long experience has shown that used 
plows have a better polish than can possibly be put on 
in the factory. This peculiarity of chilled metal 
makes chilled plows scour better in all kinds of sandy, 
gravelly, stony, heavy clay soils, and the silt loams that 
contain silica, potash, lime, iron and aluminum oxide. 

The chill, as plowmakers call the term of hardening, 
crystallizes the metal so that the grain is edgewise of the 
mouldboard instead of lengthwise. This means that 
the dirt in shedding passes over the ends of the crystals. 

The ends of the metal crystals furnish the surface for 
scouring. For this reason chilled mouldboards are very 
hard to wear out. They often wear twenty years. 
Instances are known where they have worn fifty years. 
Chilled mouldboards have been used until the edge has 
been worn to the thinness of a piece of paper and sharp 
enough for a keen cut knife. 

The thickness of a chilled mouldboard is about % to 
}/2 of an inch. One-quarter of an inch of this entire 
thickness is made of chilled metal, consequently, a 
mouldboard will wear and scour until the entire thick- 
ness of the chilled portion is worn away. When this is 



The shin and point of this bottom show the effect of sand upon steel 
bottoms. This sort of ground causes a steel bottom to wear out very 

metal. This sample of chilled metal showing the crystals 
turned on edge explains why sand does not wear away chilled metal 
as it does steel. The dirt, passing across the ends of the crystals, has a 
tendency to polish chilled metal rather than to wear grooves in it. 


compared with the thin layer of ^" of steel on the soft 
center steel mouldboard, one can readily see that a 
chilled mouldboard will outlast three steel. This fact 
is what gave rise to the statement that one chilled plow 
will outwear three steel in gritty conditions. 

Properly chilled plows are not affected by rust. The 
iron being needle crystal in form merely corrodes on the 
end of the needle. The operator can scour a chilled 
plow that has been exposed to the deteriorating weather 
conditions for a long time in a few feet of travel with the 
bottom in the ground. This feature of chilled plows is 
in great contrast to steel plows which rust so easily that 
the rust occasioned by a few days' exposure often makes 
them hard to scour. 

From the foregoing discussion on chilled and steel 
plow bottoms, it is obvious that many farmers can use 
both types of plows to good advantage, and where it is 
possible to interchange the steel wearing parts with 
chilled, the advantage is double because of the saving in 

Oftentimes it is necessary to plow in the summertime 
when the ground is hard and dry. The chilled share 
being much more resistant to the hard earth will enable 
a plowman to do better work by using chilled shares. 

Experiments have been tried many times to determine 
the amount of wear of chilled and steel shares. We 
quote one experiment that was tried for this purpose and 
the result. A two-bottom tractor plow was equipped 
with a chilled and a steel share of the same size and type, 
one bottom being equipped with a steel share and the 
other with a chilled share. The ground in which the 
experiment was tried was a sandy soil, very hard, with 



This piece of chilled metal was buried eight years. The rusty surface 
was scratched away with the back f a k n if e blade, revealing a perfectly 
smooth and unfitted surface beneath. 

The peculiarity 
of the way each 
metal wears is 
plainly discerni- 

The points of 
these shares are 
illustrated on 
page 136. 







some stones in it. The test was made the first of 
September. The steel share was only used eight hours 
and the chilled share fifty-one hours, thus showing that 
the chilled share in this type of ground would outlast 
six steel shares. 


Scouring Troubles 

ANY man who has ever operated a plow knows what 
failure to scour means. A plow bottom must 
scour if the best work is to be done. 

The reason why plows fail to scour is very seldom 
the same in any two fields, yet, underlying all these 
causes are five fundamental facts. The first and most 
common cause is the lack of an earth polish; the second, 
improper plow adjustment; third, soil conditions; fourth, 
soft spots or inequalities in the mouldboard; and fifth, 
the shape of the bottom with relation to the soil texture. 

The easiest way to overcome the lack of an earth polish 
is to take the plow into hard ground and operate it until 
this polish appears. A new plow coming from the fac- 
tory is always covered with varnish or lacquer. This 
should be removed before attempting to make the plow 
scour. In removing the varnish it is better to use some 
varnish remover preparation or strong lye solution. 
Never use a sharp, steel instrument because it is very 
apt to scratch the mouldboard. Whatever preparation 
is used none of it should be left on the plow bottom any 
longer than necessary to clean the bottom because a 
solution that is strong enough to quickly remove the 
lacquer will have a tendency to pit the surface if left 
on for any length of time. The safest rule is not to 
leave the bottom^from the start to the finish of the 


When a plow mouldboard becomes pitted it must be 
polished to the depth of pitting before it will scour. 

If plows have this high earth polish and fail to scour 
the trouble can nearly always be traced to soft spots in 
the mouldboard, or to the soil itself. Assuming that the 
mouldboard does not contain soft spots and the soil does 
not contain enough silicon to scratch the mouldboard, 
the trouble may be caused by the plow not running in a 
true line of draft, or the soil is too loose for the proper 
amount of pressure to cause the mouldboard to shed 
properly, or it may be a combination of all these causes. 

Side draft causes the mouldboard to work out of its 
normal position, thus making unequal pressure of the 
earth on the mouldboard. 

The remedy for this trouble is to adjust the hitch so 
that the plow bottom works in its normal manner. 
Whenever a plow fails to scour it is always advisable 
first to be sure that the plow is running correctly. If 
this does not remedy the trouble lowering the plow an 
inch or two will put more pressure against the mould- 
board, thus forcing off the earth which may be clinging 
to the bottom. It may be necessary to operate at this 
extra depth long enough to put on a new polish. Often 
times lowering the bottoms and travelling a distance of 
fifteen to twenty feet will suffice. 

Occasionally soils which scour readily have spots in 
them that cause the plow to stick. These spots are 
nearly always the result of a change in the soil texture. 
That is, the spots where the plow sticks are caused by 
the soil being looser. If the driver will watch these 
places very carefully he can frequently cause the 
plow to scour readily by increasing the speed when passing 



A type of soil in which mouldboard plows were never known to scour. 
Observe the soil sticking to the handle and the beam. . This soil is of that 
type in which the soil particles have greater affinity for other substances. 
Plow mouldboards covered with plaster of Paris and hog hides have been 
known to turn this soil much more successfully than any metal. 

Sectional view of ground plowed in the above manner. The ground 
is merely pushed to one side and the top looks as though it might have 
been broken up with any kind of an implement. These soils offer the 
greatest opportunity for students who are interested in soil culture. 

through, thus saving himself the necessity of cleaning 
the bottom with a paddle. 

If none of these remedies effect a cure look very care- 
fully at the mouldboard, particularly at the places 


where the earth sticks. If the surface of the mould- 
board has a cloudy appearing spot and is darker than the 
surrounding parts of the mouldboard, it shows that this 
part of the mouldboard is softer than the rest. The 
only remedy in a case of this kind is a new mouldboard. 

If the surface has the appearance of being scratched 
and the earth sticks there is no known remedy for this 
trouble because a mouldboard plow has not yet been 
made that will successfully scour in this type of soil. 
The reason is that the soil is a mixture of very sharp 
sand and silt. The silt, being of a plastic nature, fills 
in the grooves made by the sand, thus destroying the 
high polish of the mouldboard and making it absolutely 
impossible for the plow to shed properly if the soil is 
moist enough to make the silt plastic. 

The scratched mouldboard cannot shed dirt properly whether it is of 
the variety that sticks to the metal or not. The two illustrations on 
page 141 show this bottom in sandy soil. 

Another remedy that sometimes works to advantage 
is the moving of the coulters to the landside of the 
bottom. The object of this adjustment is to put an 
additional weight of the furrow slice upon the shin of 



This bottom was used in a sandy soil growing alfalfa. The purpose 
was to find out whether a steel plow would shed this soil as successfully 
as a chilled plow. The illustrations on pages 142 and 143 show the 
chilled plow in the same field. The plow was drawn back in the 
furrow and no effort made to clean the earth from the mouldboard. 

This illustration shows the above plow in alfalfa sod. Observe that it 
scours in one place and does not in another. This is characteristic of 
the steel plow in gritty soils. It puddles the sandy soil which is bad for 
aeration and helps to make it dry out quickly, paradoxical as it may 



the plow, thus causing greater pressure. Sometimes 
the coulters should be well forward, particularly when 
the soil is loose, because the action of the coulter picks 
up the fine, loose soil. The advanced position permits 
the earth to drop on the furrow slice sufficiently in 
advance of the plow bottom to prevent it from falling 
on the shin. 

Oftentimes turning the plow bottom on its wing will 
start it to scour. This puts more pressure upon the 
mouldboard and is a very good thing to do when the 
trouble is caused by going from wet to dry soils or vice 

The chilled bottom photographed after the experiment illustrated on 
page 143. Observe there are no scratches on this mouldboard. The 
dark points on the wing of the share and end of the mouldboard show the 
high polish that the gritty soils put upon this bottom. 

If it is noticeable, in all these different attempts to 
make the plow scour, that the earth is being turned over 
into clods and not pulverized properly, even though the 
plow does scour for a few feet, the wrong bottom is 
being used. The wise thing is to get in touch with some 



The bottom palled back from the soil in the same manner as the steel 
was. There is no earth sticking to the mouldboard nor is there any 
indication of puddling of the soil. 

Observe the plow is scouring all the time and that the soil has the ap- 
pearance of being pulverized and well turned even though growth of 
alfalfa was vigorous. 

reputable plow manufacturer at once and have him 
send an expert to look over the situation. All plow 
bottoms are designed for the express purpose of invert- 
ing the earth. It is not possible to design any one type 


of mould that will turn all the different soils equally well. 
The fact that clay soils hold together means that a plow 
to successfully turn and pulverize them must not have 
so bluff a mouldboard as is required for turning loose, 
sandy soils. The tendency of clay particles for holding 
together removes the necessity for as much bluff ness and 
curvature in the mouldboard. As soils vary from one 
extreme to the other, so must builders make plow bottoms 
to meet these variations. 

As a matter of fact, plow manufacturers have a large 
variety of plow bottom combinations in order to prop- 
erly plow soils of different textures. 

It is a peculiar fact that in the waxy soils of Texas, 
plow mouldboards have been made of steel, iron, glass, 
brass, aluminum, plaster of Paris, and hog hides. The 
peculiar part is that the plaster of Paris and hog hide 
mouldboards worked more successfully in these soils 
than any other type of mouldboard that has been 

Whether the shape of a mouldboard has everything to 
do with its scouring, assuming that it has the proper 
degree of hardness, is a question open to debate. The 
experiences gleaned from trying to develop a mould- 
board that would work successfully in the waxy soils 
of Texas developed so many sizes, styles and shapes of 
plow bottoms that the plow bottom graveyard is full to 
overflowing. These experiences must be regarded as 
very strong evidence that something is required other 
than the shape of the mouldboard and the material from 
which it is made. 



A never failing way to determine the soft spots in a mouldboard is to 
take an old file and break it so that a sharp edge results. Run this 
lightly over the mouldboard. The file will slide smoothly over the hard 
parts. It will stick t the soft spots. Plow manufacturers are always 
desirous of having their plows give satisfaction. After a little exper- 
ience of this kind it will be easy to detect soft spots in mould boards from 
their cloudy appearance. Soft spots never take the high polish that the 
rest of the board does. 

The reason given for the success of the plaster of Paris 
board is that the plaster wears away with the earth. 
This demonstrates that the adhesive force between the 
earth and the plaster is greater than the cohesive force 
of the plaster. It also demonstrates that the cohesive 
force of the earth is greater than that of the plaster of 


The plaster wears away rapidly and the farmer is 
obliged to recoat his mouldboard often sometimes 
as often as every night. Considering that Texas 
farmers have different sizes and shapes of plow bottoms, 
it is plainly evident that the shape of the bottom does 
not control its scouring qualities. The revolving disk 
is the only type of steel plow at the present time that is 
regarded as handling this soil successfully, but the disk 
plow does not scour in these soils, showing that the ad- 
hesive force of the steel disk and the earth is greater than 
the cohesive force of the earth and also that the co- 
hesive force between the two is greater than the adhesive 
force of the earth particles. 

If it is a question of constant pressure of the soil 
against the mouldboard, it is necessary, then, in the design 
of a mouldboard to shape it to interfere as little as 
possible with the crumbling of sticky soils when turning 
them over. 

It is far from easy to design a plow bottom that will 
always do these things satisfactorily. The Texas illus- 
tration must be regarded as conclusive evidence that 
the shape of the mouldboard is not the only factor to be 
taken into consideration. The material from which the 
mouldboard is made and the way it is made often have 
more to do with the success of the bottom than its shape. 
Very frequently a mouldboard that from all standpoints 
of theory should do a better job than another type of 
bottom does the poorer quality of work simply because 
the mouldboard fails to scour. 

Another side in scouring that is little known and has 
received but spasmodic attention is the effect of heat 
upon metal mouldboards. 


One time a plow bottom designer was trying out a 
bottom in sticky soil. The field was wet on one side 
and dry on the other. The day was fearfully hot. In 
the morning it was observed that the plow was scouring 
successfully in the wettest and driest portions of the 
field but where the two came together the plow refused 
to scour on going into the wet portion and also refused 
to scour on coming out. At noon the plow bottom was 
cleaned and left standing where the sun had a good 
opportunity to thoroughly heat it. The plow bottom 
became very warm and the first two rounds in the after- 
noon the plow scoured. After that the designer en- 
countered the same trouble he had experienced in the 

It is a matter of plow history that a Texas farmer 
devised a pan arrangement back of the mouldboard, 
well down towards the share, to hold burning corncobs. 
The difficulty experienced in this device was the lack of 
uniform heat on all parts of the plow bottom. Those 
who witnessed the demonstration maintained that the 
mouldboard scoured where the temperature was hot 
enough, but failed to scour on other sections of the 

There may be more in this theory than some of us 
think at the present time because it is a well known 
physical fact that heat is the best agent for separating 
molecules combined by adhesive force. 

Oftentimes failure to scour cannot be attributed to 
any one cause. It may be a combination of two, three, 
or more of the conditions mentioned in the second para- 
graph. The operator must act in cases of scouring 
troubles very much like a physician diagnosing compli- 
cations in a case of illness, and then apply the proper 
remedies for each trouble. 


Enough has been said to show that a dull, or incor- 
rectly shaped share can do irreparable damage, and the 
operator never discover the source of the trouble unless 
he takes time to investigate. 

Incorrect hitching and a dull share combined cause a 
plow to do so many erratic things that the share symptom 
is often overlooked in seeking to rectify the trouble by 
hitch adjustments alone. 


Setting the Share on the Plow 

KNOWING how to drive the team properly and 
make the hitch correctly are two points that deter- 
mine good plowmanship. The other one is to know that 
your plow bottom is in the right condition. The share is 
the vital part in this work. If the operator is positive the 
share has the correct shape for land suck and penetration, 
he has little to worry about in making the plow work 
successfully. A plow bottom operating correctly cuts 
all the furrows the same width, the same depth, and 
runs level. If the plow is not doing this naturally, some- 
thing is wrong. The first thing to investigate is the 

If the bottom has a tendency to rise when the hitch 
is made where it always has been in the past for plow- 
ing that depth, the plow share is worn rounding on the 
under side, giving the share a sled runner effect. The 
tendency is to work out of the ground instead of into it. 
Sharpening the point is necessary to rectify this trouble. 

If the furrow bottom is uneven and full of gouged 
places, the plow bottom is running on its point. If the 
hitch is the same as it has been in the past for plowing 
at this depth, the trouble is that the point of the share 
is bent downward too much, causing it to move forward 
with a jumping motion. This can only be rectified by 
putting a gradual slope on the point. 



In shafting the point of a plow share the greatest care should be ex- 
ercised to see that it has a gradual wedged shaped slant. One of the 
difficulties encountered when carelessly sharpening shares is to put the 
point of the share oser the edge of the anvil, then hit it a blow with a 
hammer. The result is worse than the equivalent of a dull share. 
Instead of the ploio going in deeper as intended, it gouges along the 
ground and increases the draft of the plow. The illustration shows 
the proper angle and shaping of the point. 

The wing of the share when properly sharpened, rests on a straight 
edge with the point. The edge of the throat is slightly raised from the 
straight edge. This means that when the plow is operating in the ground 
the point is as much low as the throat is high on the straight edge. 




If the plow bottom has a tendency to pull down on 
the point so as to bear heavily on the land wheel and 
lightly on the furrow wheels, the share is bent upward 
too much on the wing. To remedy this the wing of the 
share must be lowered. 

If the plow has a tendency to bear down heavily on the 
furrow wheels and not on the land wheel, there is too 
much dip or suck in the wing of the share. This must 
be rectified by raising the cutting edge of the wing. 

The length of time that the bearings and axles of 
wheel plows wear, providing they are kept properly 
greased, is largely determined by the correct adjust- 
ment of the plow bottom. For this reason, as well as 
that of good plowing, plow shares should be kept sharp 
and adjusted correctly. 

These are delicate operations and a competent smith 
or plowman should be consulted if the operator is not 
absolutely certain which course to pursue. 

The share of a walking plow has more wing than the 
riding plow. This additional wing surface is necessary 
as a bearing to keep the plow running level. On sulky 
plows the wheels carry this weight. Hence, when the 
shares of wheel plows are properly sharpened, only the 
cutting edge comes in contact with the ground. The 
effect of the wrong set on a share is immediately notice- 
able in a walking plow and is identical with that of the 
wheel plows. The operator has to stand the brunt of 
the incorrect adjustment that the wheels and frame of 
wheel plows sustain. 

When one remembers that the point of the share 
extends a slight distance landward from a line parallel 
with the landside to make it hold the land, and slightly 
downward below a line parallel with the bottom of the 


andslide to hold it in the ground, and the wing of the 
share with edge shaped to keep the bottom working 
level, he will have little difficulty in setting a share on 
the plow bottom. 

Shares and bottoms made by different manufacturers 
have differences in shapes, but the general principle is 
the same. 


Sharpening Soft Center 
Steel Shares 

r*HE majority of steel shares are made of soft center 
1 steel, a term applied to the use of a layer of low carbon 
steel between two of high carbon. The soft center steel is 
by far the most common steel share in use and requires a 
particular treatment in sharpening because of the peculi- 
arity of wear upon it. Most of the wear on the share takes 
place on the underside, hence the lower layer of high 
carbon steel wears away faster than the upper one. This 
must be observed very carefully in sharpening the share. 

In heating, care should be taken that only the portion 
of the share which is to be pounded out is heated. This 
can be done by laying the share flat with the edge 
over the center of the fire and filling up the underside 
with green coals. This keeps the greater part of the 
share cool, thus preserving its shape. The common 
mistake is to put the share in the fire in a vertical posi- 
tion with the edge down. This heats too much of the 
share and causes it to warp and spring out of shape. 

The pounding should be done from the upper side with 
the bottom of the share flat on the anvil. This keeps 
the cutting edge down and works the hard steel of the 
upper surface over the soft steel in the center, thus pre- 
serving for the share a hard cutting edge. Since shares 
receive the most wear on the under side, pounding the 
share on this side exposes the soft center steel and 
has a tendency to work the cutting edge out of shape. 



<X w 




A picture of a soft center steel share pounded on the upper side. The 
edge has the appearance of being somewhat rough but the hard steel was 
worked down over the edge. Sometimes in heating soft center steel 
shares the layers of steel are loosened. Wherever this happens pounding 
the share on the upper side keeps it from wearing away. 

Soft center steel share pounded on the under side when being sharpened. 
Notice that the hard steel on the surface has been broken away on the 
edge and on the point. This is caused by improper heating when 
sharpening and pounding the share on the under side. A little practice 
in sharpening soft center steel shares in the correct way and an under- 
standing of how to set them on the plow will eliminate a great deal of the 
difficulty farmers experience in the operation of the plow. 

After the point has been hammered on the anvil 
to the proper shape, if necessary, a piece of steel can 
be welded to the top of the point. 

Care should be taken in doing this work not to dent 
the share when hammering it out as this would spoil 
its scouring qualities. 


To temper the share properly after it has been ham- 
mered out requires uniform heat. The right heat is a 
dull cherry red, a temperature of approximately 1 472 F. 
One of the most successful methods of tempering is to 
slowly draw the share through the fire with the cutting 
edge down until the edge has been heated to the proper 
color. Then draw the share from the fire, put the point 
far enough into the ground to hold up the share, and let 
it stay there until it cools. 


Sharpening Crucible Steel Shares 

/CRUCIBLE steel shares are made of one piece of steel. 
^^ They cannot be tempered so hard as soft center 
steel because tempering makes them too brittle and 
thus subject to easy breakage. 

Ground that sheds easily can be successfully plowed 
with a crucible share. 

Crucible steel shares can be sharpened exactly the 
same as soft center steel shares, or they can be treated 
according to the old custom of pounding the share on 
the reverse side. However, there is less danger of 
misshaping the edge of the share if it is pounded on 
the upper side. 



Sharpening Chilled Shares 

/^HILLED shares are made in moulds the same as 
^^ chilled mouldboards. On account of the nature of 
the iron they cannot be heated and drawn out by pound- 
ing as can steel shares. When it becomes necessary to 
sharpen chilled shares they must be ground on the 
upper side on an emery wheel or grindstone until a 
bevel edge appears. 



The Rolling Coulter 

' I 'HE purpose of the rolling coulter is to cut the stubble 
and trash into lengths the width of the furrow and 
leave a smooth furrow bank. On account of the great 
difference in soil texture and the varieties of trash dif- 
ferent adjustments are necessary to bring about this 

To make the furrow bank smooth the rolling coulter 
must be set to the land far enough away from the plow 
shin and deep enough in the ground to prevent the shin 
of the plow from digging into the furrow bank made by 
the rolling coulter. In ordinary conditions the coulter 
set to cut a furrow J4" to Y% wider than the plow bot- 
tom will suffice, but by no means can anyone assume that 
this is a set rule to follow. Set the coulter so that it 
accomplishes the result intended. 

One must remember when setting a coulter to properly 
cut the furrow bank that, if the coulter, when set, is not 
running parallel with the landside of the plow, the plow 
is out of adjustment and the bottom must be correctly 
adjusted before the rolling coulter can be finally set. 
The depth at which the rolling coulter operates must be 
determined solely by conditions. 

In cutting trash the coulter should make with the 
surface of the ground a condition similar to a shear cut, 
using the ground for one edge of the shear. In order to 
produce this shear cut with the rolling coulter it is 
necessary to have the coulter high enough to force 



This illustration shows the effect of a plow out of adjustment on the 
rolling coulter. The rolling coulter is always pulled in a straight line 
of draft. The bottom as is illustrated by the landside shows that it is 
wording out of its true line of draft. The clods and earth on the edge of 
the furrow bank are telltale evidences of the wrong plow adjustment. 


the trash down and under. The coulter cannot 
do this if it is set deep enough in the ground for 
the downward motion at the cutting edge to be prac- 
tically straight. For this reason the safest rule is to set 
the coulter deep enough to cut the trash without clogging 
and shallow enough to cut the trash without riding over 
part of it. 

When operating the plow in hard ground the coulter 
set high and as far back as possible gives the plow point 
a chance to penetrate the ground first. The plow 
bottom sucks its way into the ground. The rolling 
coulter must be forced into the ground. If the coulter 
is placed ahead of the plow point part of the suction of 
the bottom will be utilized in pulling the coulter into the 
ground. If the plow point penetrates first it has the 
advantage of the weight caused by deeper penetration 
to hold the coulter in the ground. 

In plowing stony ground the coulter set well ahead of 
the point and very low prevents stones from lodging 
between the coulter blade and the plow bottom. 

A little study of these fundamentals will soon point 
the way for properly adjusting the coulter. 

The Jointer 

The purpose of the jointer is to turn a small furrow on 
top the furrow slice so that when this slice is inverted 
the trash, stubble, sod, etc., may be turned to the 
bottom of the furrow. 

The adjustment of the jointer is very much simpler 
than that of the coulter. It should be set so that the 
furrow it turns should rest upon the larger furrow slice 



When the coulter is properly set the furrow wall is smooth with little 
or no dirt on the unplowed ground next to the furrow wall. The clean 
cut furrow slices and the absence of protruding stubble are the benefits 
of a correctly set combined rolling coulter and jointer. 



Observe the jointer turning a little furrow into the right-hand corner 
of the big furrow bottom. This is necessary for ideal plowing. 



in such a way that it will roll into the lower right hand 
corner of the furrow when the slice is being inverted. 
For the most part this point is slightly ahead of the 
point of the plow and on the unplowed land J4" to M" 
from the shin of the plow. These measurements are by 
means fixed. The adjustment must be made to 


bring about the desired results. 

The jointer cannot be used by itself in very trashy 
ground because the trash will catch on the point of the 
shin and clog the throat of the plow. This fact led to 
the use of the combined rolling coulter and jointer, the 
adjustment of which is practically the same as that of 
the rolling coulter and jointer separately. 

The Combined Rolling Coulter 
and Jointer 

The combined rolling coulter and jointer is a recent 
improvement in plows and has made possible the suc- 
cessful covering of weeds and trash in the lower right 

The combined rolling coulter and jointer is one of the greatest helps for 
plowing properly. 


hand corner of the furrow where they interfere very little 
with the upward trend of moisture and thus rapidly 
help make humus out of the weeds. 

The combined rolling coulter and jointer is the only 
attachment that has been invented for use with plows 
which absolutely assures that all kinds and sizes of trash 
will be buried deep enough in the ground for the suc- 
cessful eradication of insects which plowing puts out 
of business. Whatever time of the year it may be neces- 
sary for plowing it is always advisable to have that plow 
equipped with a combined rolling coulter and jointer 
and to see that all trash is buried on the bottom of the 


The Tractor Plow Hitch 

BEFORE one attempts to adjust a plow he should know 
the physical laws that govern the operation of plows. 
Otherwise he is groping in the dark. It has been the 
experience of a great many plow experts that the prin- 
ciples or physical laws underlying the working of plows 
are not generally understood. For this reason this 
chapter will treat plow adjustments from the theoretical 
side (which after all controls the practical), rather than 
enter into a discussion of how the operator should change 
the hitch to produce certain results. Another reason for 
treating the matter from the physical law side is that 
specific instructions sometimes produce the opposite 
from the intended results. This happens quite often 
when instruction books are followed. No writer of 
instructions can call before his mind all the different 
conditions that must be met; consequently the best 
intentions cause trouble by the reader's inability to 
diagnose conditions correctly. 

The draft laws that control the operation of tractor 
plows are the same for wheel and walking plows. How- 
ever, different adjustments are necessary to make these 
different types of plows conform to the basic law govern- 
ing proper adjustments. This law stated very specifi- 
cally is: The shortest distance between two points is a 
straight line. In tractor plow adjustments one of these 
points is the "center of power" of the tractor, usually 
regarded as a point on the rear axle at equal distance 



from the drivers. The other point is the "center of 
draft" (also called the center of weight or the center of 
resistance) of the plow. A straight line between these 
points is the "line of draft." The line between these 
two points is theoretically always straight. 

Being obliged to turn the front tractor wheels toward the plowed ground 
indicates that the draft of the plow is pulling the front of the tractor in 
the opposite direction. This is hard on both the plow and the tractor. 

The center of draft of the plow is an imaginary point 
in the plow base or bottom from which a single force 
pulling straight ahead and parallel to the furrow wall 
will cause the plow to work correctly with the minimum 
effort. This point is usually placed from 12 to 15 
inches back from the share point, 2 inches up from the 
furrow sole and 3 inches from the furrow wall. One 
must remember that this point is not fixed but con- 



stantly moves from side to side and up and down on 
account of the variations in shapes and the intensity 
of the pressure of the earth against the bottom. But 
for the sake of explaining the principle we will assume 
that this point is correct. In actual practice a slight 
variation does not materially affect the working of the 

Being obliged to turn the tractor in this direction shows that the draft 
of the plow has a tendency to pull the wheels toward the plowed ground. 
This puts enormous end-thrust on the front of the tractor, and demands 
additional power for operation. 

It is impossible to pull a plow in the true line of draft 
because the hitch would be below the surface of the 

The fact that the power cannot be operated in a line 
parallel with the landside through the center of draft of 
the plow necessitates two lines of draft. These two 


lines one a vertical line of draft (or force) tending to 
pull the plow out of the ground and the other, the line of 
side draft, which has to do with keeping the plow oper- 
ating straight ahead determine plow adjustments. 
The line through which these forces neutralize (or the 
resultant force) is the true line of draft from a practical 
standpoint. All plow adjustments must be made to 
keep this line straight, because this line will straighten 
theoretically regardless of how the plow or the tractor 

When we understand these laws and what is necessary 
to keep the line between these two points straight, that 
is, between the center of power and the center of draft, 
we can readily see why it is necessary to have the plow 
beams and a vertical adjustment to take care of the 
penetration of the plow, as well as a horizontal adjust- 
ment to take care of the side draft. 

In Fig. 5 is illustrated the vertical line of draft. C is 
the center of draft of weight. CX is the theoretical line 
of draft. B represents the center of power of the 
tractor. BGC then represent the line of draft passing 
through the clevis on the front of the beam of the plow 
at G. If the line BGC were angled as BHC and the 
resistance at point C required more power than the 
force necessary to straighten the line, it is evident that 
the line BHC would assume the position BGC before 
the plow would move. Hence the bottom would rise 
until BHC reached the position BGC. 

Obviously this would lessen the depth of the plow 
regardless of the fact that there may be a wheel at the 
rear and one at the front. If the front wheel happened 
to be the controlling factor of a power lift, the lift would 
refuse to work because of the lack of weight to hold the 




wheel on the ground. However, it is easy to imagine a 
hard plowing condition where the plow depth would 
remain the same and the effect show on the tractor. 
But remember that whatever happens to the plow or 
tractor, the draft line straightens. 

Suppose the plow at point, C, requires 550 pounds 
effort to move ahead, and the tractor can only produce 
525 pounds effort. In this case the plow would remain 
stationary and point, B, the center of power of the 
tractor, would lower until it reached the line AHC, 
providing no outside influence stopped it. If point, B, 
were back of the center of power the front wheels of the 
tractor would rise. If point, B, were ahead of the 
center of power undue weight would be brought to bear 
on the front trucks, and the rear wheels of the tractor 
would tend to slip because of the tendency to relieve 
them of weight. When this condition occurs, as it often 
does, the operator must adjust the hitch on both the 
plow and tractor until the draft line is straight. 

It is further apparent that the height of the hitch on 
the tractor and the range of clevis adjustment on the 
front of the plow have everything to do with keeping 
this line straight when plowing at different depths. 

Theoretically speaking, a different adjustment should 
be made on a vertical clevis every time the plow depth 
is to be changed, but from the way plows are designed, a 
slight variation in depth can be made without materially 
affecting the draft line. However, one should be very 
careful when adjusting the plow depth to vary it as 
little as possible if he expects his plow to operate per- 

Another feature of the vertical adjustment is shown in 
Fig. 5. The lines, AHC and BGC, show that the different 


distances between the plow and the tractor necessitate 
different adjustments to plow the same depth. In 
other words, the farther the tractor is removed from the 
plow, the lower it is necessary to hitch in the vertical 
clevis if the operator desires to plow at the same depth 
as when the tractor is hitched to the plow at point B. 

When the hitch on the tractor is exceedingly high it 
may become necessary to lengthen the hitch between the 
plow and the tractor to make the plow run at the depth 
the operator desires. This is another way of saying, 
keep the draft line straight. 

The reader will permit a diversion at this point long 
enough to say that there is no truth in the theory that a 
short hitch makes possible lighter draft than a long 
hitch. The reason for this is very plain when we once 
understand that the minimum amount of draft required 
to pull a plow must be through a straight line from the 
center of draft or center of weight to the center of power. 
As long as the tractor and plow are in this relation the 
only difference is the weight of the additional length ot 
the draft bar. 

It is further apparent from Fig. 5, that if the hitch 
line is BKC and the force on the plow bottom is sufficient 
to draw line BKC into BGC, more power will be re- 
quired to pull the plow because the front wheel will have 
to sustain the brunt of the downward pressure. This 
naturally will cause the plow to run on its point, mak- 
ing an uneven furrow bottom and interfering very 
materially with the pulverizing of the ground by the 
mouldboard. This is apt to throw the ground over 
into clods, breaking them rather than pulverizing. 


If the plow has no front wheel, it is equally obvious that 
the bottom will go deeper in order to straighten the 
draft line. 

If a wheel plow is working in ground that is hard to 
plow this trouble may not be noticed, but the instant it 
strikes easy ground the trouble will become plain im- 

Another way for the operator to determine whether 
or not this point of draft is correct is to raise the front 
furrow wheel and also the landside wheel if they are 
both well to the front of the plow. The plow will im- 
mediately begin to penetrate deeper and deeper if the 
line of draft is not straight at the depth desired to plow. 

If the plow is a gang, this condition will cause the 
front bottom to penetrate deeper than the rear bottoms. 
This naturally then requires lowering the hitch at K to 
the point G on the vertical clevis. 

Side draft would not take place if the line of draft 
could be operated parallel to the furrow wall. The 
principle back of adjusting the side pull is identically the 
same as that of adjusting the vertical pull with the 
exception that it operates in a horizontal plane. If this 
be true, the question of why cannot this line of draft be 
operated at an angle as successfully as the vertical draft 
at once arises. The answer lies in the construction of 
the bottom. The suck and wing of the share are made 
to permit this vertical angle pull, while it is impossible 
to construct a device that will turn all the earth to one 
side and have enough resistance to keep the plow oper- 
ating parallel to the furrow wall, particularly when 
the side pull has a tendency to draw the rear of the 
landside away from the furrow wall. 


The last four furrows were turned with the plow out of adjustment. 
Notice the ground is broken and pushed to one side. Compare this with 
the rest of the plowed field with the plow in adjustment. This picture 
furnishes the best of evidence that a plow should be in the correct line of 
draft if the operator desires to do good wor^. 

This fact brings up an interesting study of side draft, 
because the results of such adjustments seem to be con- 
trary to what one would expect. The reason for this 
unexpected result lies in the fact that the draft bar 
attachment from a tractor to the plow is rigid on the 
plow and hinges to the tractor. Every man who has 
operated a horse plow knows that to make a right-hand 
plow take less land the horizontal hitch is moved to the 
left of the center line of draft, and if he desires to take 
more land he moves it to the right of the center of draft. 
He also knows that the pivot point is on the clevis of the 
plow and not on the shoulders of the horses which repre- 
sent the center of power the same as the hitch on the 
tractor, hence there is an entire reversal of the order of 
hitch. One cannot expect to get the same results 
because there is a vast difference in the application of 


power; although the law that the draft line will 
straighten itself is just as true. 

A farmer can either separate his horses or bring 
them closer together to approach more nearly the 
straight line of draft. But the man who operates a 
tractor has not this advantage. In order to approach 
this line of draft, he must either run his tractor in the 
furrow close to the furrow wall, or else permit of side 
draft when plowing is difficult. 

Everyone knows that it requires a certain amount of 
effort to produce a given result. Figuring energy and result 
as weight, we can readily see that it will require a given 
weight in energy to produce a given weight in result. 
Carrying this illustration a step farther we know that 
it requires one hundred pounds weight to balance one 
hundred pounds on a fulcrum between the weights an 
equal distance from each. Naturally then, if the greater 
weight is the tractor the result will show on the plow, 
but if the greater weight is the plow, the result will show 
on the tractor; and where the weight is more equally 
divided the result shows on both. 

Since the pressure against the mouldboard varies very 
greatly in a given field, it should be apparent that when 
the tractor begins to swerve to one side the plow is in a 
hard condition of ground and naturally is exerting itself 
to straighten the draft line by pulling the rear end of 
the tractor around towards a point in the center draft 
line. On the other hand, if the tractor is running 
parallel to the plow wall and the plow is swerved to one 
side it is plainly evident that the plowing conditions are 
light. But in both instances the operator should know 
that he is not approaching the draft line, and that the 
plow and tractor are doing their utmost to observe this 


law. The damage that is done to both the plow and 
tractor cannot be estimated, but it should be plainly 
evident that when the tractor is operating at its max- 
imum capacity and the rear wheels are sliding toward 
the furrow wall and the front wheels pointing to the 
opposite direction on account of the operator trying to 
keep the plow cutting full width, there must be 
immense tortional stress on the tractor and tremendous 
end thrust on both the front and rear axles that cause 
the tractor to work harder than when the tractor is 
pulling in a straight line of draft. As a matter of fact, 
experiments have been made which show an increase of 
power required from 15 to 25 per cent, to say nothing of 
the damage done to the plow when the tractor produces 
enough power to spring the plow out of shape. 

Fig. 6 illustrates for all practical purposes a perfect 
line of draft through the center of the plow and the 
center of power on the tractor. The slight distance the 
tractor is off center will not affect the working of the 
plow. When the plow and tractor are adjusted to this 
position the energy of the tractor is directed towards 
pulling the plow straight ahead. There is no side force 
of any kind to be overcome in the operation of the plow. 
Naturally, the minimum power will be required to pull 
the plow. The plow will do a perfect job. Neither 
plow nor tractor will be subjected to side stress which 
causes unnecessary wear, and oftentimes sudden break- 

When it is necessary to hitch to one side the tractor 
has to exert power enough to overcome the forces which 
operate against this line when it deviates from the center 
line of draft. This can easily be seen by Fig. 7. C is 
the center of weight of the plow. A is the center of 


power. AC then represents the line of draft which is 
angular to EC, the force which should act to pull the 
plow forward in the perfect line of draft, if the operator 
desires to plow properly. 

According to the laws of physics, AB and AE consti- 
tute a parallelogram of force, hence the magnitude of 
the forces AB and AE is proportional to their length. 
In this diagram the proportion is 14 to 4. 

Assuming it requires 540 pounds to operate the plow, 
this means then that 420 pounds are required to pull 
the plow straight ahead and 120 pounds to overcome 
the side draft. It is perfectly plain then that the tractor 
which is hitched to one side of the center line of draft in 
this case is required to withstand a tortional stress of 120 
pounds. It is also apparent that as the line BC is 
placed closer to EA the proportion of forces becomes more 
evenly divided. 

For example, if the hitch between the tractor and 
plow were shortened so that ABCE would form a square, 
then force AE would be equal to force AB; that is, the 
side draft would be increased to one half of 540 pounds. 
In actual practice with such a hitch as this it would 
require more than 540 pounds to pull the plow, because 
the tractor would be operating at a tremendous dis- 
advantage on account of the additional force tending to 
pull the rear wheels of the tractor toward the line of 
draft (which as has been explained previously in this 
chapter will always straighten itself regardless of what 
forces may be acting against it). Hence, it is evident 
that the hitch on the tractor must be in a straight line 
from the center of weight to the center of hitch on the 
tractor if the minimum of power is required to pull the 




The question at once arises as to why the plow will 
not swerve around so that the line AFC takes the posi- 
tion AC as one would naturally expect it to do if the 
draft line is to straighten. The reason for this lies in 
the draft rod brace GH which is solidly fastened to the 
draft bar of the plow and the frame in front making a 
rigid connection on the plow, thus bringing into play 
another force which places the swivel point of hitch on 
the tractor instead of on the plow. Naturally when the 
tractor wheels begin to move towards the furrow wall 
the front of the plow must move in the same direction. 

Both the rear of the tractor and the front of the plow 
would continue to move in this direction until the 
opposing forces would neutralize each other, but both 
the plow and tractor would be sadly out of shape. 

Another observation from such a condition is that the 
draft bar I, pulls on the plow and the draft bar brace, 
GH, pushes, thus we have the two opposing forces, one 
pulling ahead as it should and the other pushing back 
as it should not. 

It is plainly evident that undue stress is placed upon 
all parts of the plow and that the brace, K, is utilized 
not only to hold the plow beams the proper distance 
apart, but is pushing the front beam and the parts at- 
tached forward to offset the back pressure caused by the 
draft bar brace, GH. 

It is further apparent from Fig. 7, that the farther 
ahead the tractor is hitched, the less will be the angle 
of side pull. Then it follows that the only possible way to 
lessen side draft when conditions will not warrant putting 
the tractor into the true line of draft is to lengthen the 
hitch between the plow and the tractor. 




This discussion, of course, assumes that the plow is in 
perfect working condition. Before one attempts to 
make adjustments he must know that the plow will 
respond or his efforts will be futile. Always see that 
the shares are sharp, with proper suck and wing, all the 
bottoms are scouring, bolts are tight, and levers working 
easily before attempting to make final hitch adjustments. 


Adjusting Horse Plows 

A WALK ING plow is the simplest form of plows. 
It does the best of work when properly hitched 
and causes the operator the utmost grief if the draft 
line between the horses and the plow is incorrect. 

The law that applies to the draft of tractor plows is 
the same for walking plows, but the application is radical- 
ly different because the center of power upon horse drawn 
plows is the point equal in height to the average point 
on the shoulders where the tugs are fastened to the hames 
and midway between the outside horses. The draft line 
between the center of draft of the plow and this point 
will always straighten. The center of draft of either 
a walking or wheel plow is exactly the same as 
that on the tractor plow discussed in the third paragraph 
in the chapter "The Tractor Plow Hitch." 

Because this draft line straightens, the depth adjust- 
ments can be made with the clevis on the front beam. 
Whenever it is desired to cut deeper the clevis is raised 
and when it is desired to plow shallow the clevis is 
always lowered. If it is desired on a right-hand plow to 
take more land the clevis is placed to the right, and to 
the left to take less land. Of course, these two adjust- 
ments are opposite if a left-hand plow is being used. 

All these adjustments are made to keep that draft 
line straight at the depth and width desired to plow. 


The walking plow is a very good example of the fact 
that an implement does not require a pole to make neck- 

The reason why sore shoulders, back, and hips are 
prevalent when using a plow with or without a pole is 
because the traces are not in a straight line from the 
point where the tugs fasten to the hames on the shoulders 
through to the center of draft on the plow. When a 
horse has a sore neck on top one raises the tugs at the 
back band. This is evidence enough that plowmen 
practice this principle whether they know it or not. 
The further fact that raising a tug at the back band 
often makes the back sore is positive proof that we are 
playing around the straight line of draft. How much 
better it would be after the plow has been adjusted to 
the depth one desires to plow to see that the hip straps 
are loose and that there is no downward pull on the 
back band, no upward pull on the belly band, no chok- 
ing at the collar and no bearing down on top the neck. 

It is necessary in walking plows more than wheel 
plows to have the shares absolutely correct before any 
kind of adjustments can be made. Where the weight 
of the bottoms is carried on wheels, the work of 
an incorrectly shaped share does not show up in a wheel 
plow so quickly as in a walking plow. For this reason 
if the operator makes all the adjustments in the clevis 
that can be made and the plow does not respond to the 
adjustments it is plainly evident that something is wrong 
with the share or some part of the plow is sprung out of 
shape. It is reasonable to assume that by far the 
greatest number of times this trouble will be in the share. 
It is necessary to have a thorough understanding of the 
setting of a share on a walking plow before one knows 





o 2 h 

a . 


2 c 3 



When hitching two horses to a sulky plow it is better to spread them 
apart. It gives the advantage of having fresh air circulating around 
them so that they can work to good advantage as well as to give the plow 
the advantage of wording in the true line of draft. A thorough under- 
standing of the draft line of plows will save a great deal of plowing 
trouble which is unnecessary. 

whether he can adjust the plow as he desires it to run. 
The setting of the share is discussed in Chapter XV. 

When two horses are hitched abreast the effect is 
equivalent to hitching two forces, one on each side of 
this theoretical center line of draft. That is, an equal 
force is operating on each side of the center of weight of 
the plow. These horses must be hitched so that the 
leverage is the same for both, otherwise one of the horses 
will be doing the greater amount of work. The closer 
one adheres to this theory the more necessary it becomes 
to regulate the width of singletrees and doubletrees in 
accordance with the size of the teams. 


Every few years plow manufacturers change the 
angle of the beam in relation to the furrow simply 
because of the lack of knowledge of this one funda- 
mental part in hitching to walking plows. 

If a walking plow cuts 14" the point where the double- 
tree is attached to the plow must be immediately in 
front of the landside, which is 21" to the center of the 
previous furrow. This would make a doubletree with 
the two outside holes 42" apart. 

To pull the plow straight forward the efforts of the 
two horses combined must make a straight line parallel 
with the furrow wall the width the plow bottom is 
cutting. If the clevis pin is too far to the right of this 
imaginary line the plow bottom of a right-hand plow will 
immediately begin to move to the left until this line is 
straight. This is the reason why the plow takes more 

Obviously if the clevis pin is hitched too far to the 
left of this center the plow will take less land. 

When a walking plow is properly adjusted it can be operated without 
the operator holding to the handles. The test of a man's ability to 
adjust a walking plow and sharpen the share is to make that plow 
operate correctly without holding the handles. 


If the horses are hitched tandem a somewhat different 
result takes place. That is, the center of power is an 
imaginary point half-way between the tug staples on the 
hames of the front team and the rear team. This 
requires a different adjustment on the clevis of the plow 
if the same depth of plowing is desired. When three 
horses are hitched abreast it is obvious, on account of the 
size of the horses and the narrow furrow being turned, 
that the center of hitch cannot apply to the center of 
draft of the plow. It must be moved to the left of the 
clevis in order to give the horses an opportunity to work. 

Middle Breakers 

OTRANGE as it may seem, the middle breaker is 
^ extremely useful for very wet and very dry ground. 
In wet ground the ridges made by the middle breaker 
dry out, giving the air an opportunity to mingle with 
the moisture in the ground in the right proportion for 
plant food development. Oftentimes the water level in 
the ground is close enough to the surface to keep a seed 
bed unduly wet. These ridges give the air and heat from 
the sun a chance to dry out the ground rapidly enough 
to develop plant food for the growing plants. 

The lister is used most extensively in those regions 
where the soil is light and sandy and the evaporation of 
moisture is excessive, and in those parts of the country 
where the plowing season is short. 

Listing prevents the soil from blowing and enables the 
crop to withstand the drought of the semi-arid climates. 
The roots work deeper into the soil, the surface of which 
is exceedingly warm. This places them in contact with 
more moisture. 

Larger acreages can be handled when put in with a 
lister because of the elimination of a great part of the 
labor of seed bed preparation. The lister prepares the 
ground at one operation, taking the place of plowing, 
disking, harrowing, and packing. This is a great incen- 
tive to the use of the lister. 

The lister is useful in a climate which is exceedingly 
wet early in the spring and dry during the growing 
season. The use of the lister eliminates much early 
spring plowing, but permits the farmer to get onto the 
field and plant a considerable acreage without any pre- 
vious soil preparation. 


Farmers in those localities where there is deficiency in 
moisture are forced to farm more acres to grow the same 
amount of crop. In other words, they must secure their 
rainfall by spreading out since they cannot depend upon 
a great depth of precipitation. Here listing as a labor 
saver is a very material consideration. 

Listing is practiced in two ways. In some sections it is 
the sole method for putting in corn and in other regions 
it supplements checking and drilling. The farmer does 
what early spring plowing he finds to do since fall plow- 
ing for corn is not generally followed in those sections. 
When the rainfall is excessive in the planting season it 
often happens that only a small part of the proposed 
acreage of corn has been prepared for planting. In such 
cases the general practice is to list the wheat stubble and 
corn land with a two-row lister completing planting in a 
very short time. While listing is not adapted to a wet 
growing season, it is very useful when the early spring is 
exceedingly wet and the summer dry. 

In communities where listing is practiced there is 
always more or less discussion in regard to the effect 
listing has upon the seed bed. The objection is often 
heard that listing leaves hard ridges throughout the field 
which subsequently become baked and leave the soil in 
bad texture. This is true when listing on clay and clay 
loam soils. On light, sandy soils this objection is not a 
serious one. 

A twenty years' observation of fields which have been 
listed every other year shows that those soils which are 
adapted to the practice are exceedingly mellow and no 
bad effects have been found in the ridging of the soil. 
Here the practice has been to list at right angles to the 
last listing. 

Another objection to listing often raised is that if the 
season is wet the soil in the furrow will bake and crust 
over so that the corn cannot break through. Here the 




objection is unfounded where listing has been practiced 
on the kind of soil for which it is intended. Baking so 
that the corn cannot break through has not been observed 
in the light sandy soils. There have been some very sad 
experiences with listing on heavy packing soil. 

When the field has been listed and properly tended so 
that the last cultivation levels the ridges it has prac- 
tically the same kind of surface as checked corn. There- 
fore the customary rotation of small grain and corn can 
be practiced to advantage. The prevalent method of 
putting in the small grain crop is to disk the field which 
was previously in corn in the early spring. Where the 
cultivating has been properly done and the ridges 
entirely leveled no difficulty is encountered in seeding 
the spring grain in the cornstalk field. 

To be brief, the advantages of listing are as follows: 

1 . The prevention from blowing of light soils due to the 
ridges of the field. 

2. The saving of moisture and the use of more sub- 
soil moisture by putting the roots deeper into the ground. 

3. The saving of labor in the early spring. 

4. Permitting a larger acreage than would otherwise 
be possible since it supplements planting in ridges where 
moisture conditions are difficult. 

The middle breaker or "lister" is a combination of a 
right-hand and a left-hand plow bottom without the 
landside, the object being to throw the dirt to turn a 
furrow slice in both directions. This construction per- 
mits one mouldboard to act as a landside to the other, 
however, in the uses to which the middle breaker is put 
there is often greater pressure against one of the mould- 
boards than the other. This would naturally cause the 
entire bottom to swerve towards the side of least resist- 
ance until the pressure against each mouldboard would 
be equalized. To offset this a steel rudder is placed 
midway between the two bottoms to penetrate into the 
ground to keep the bottom operating in a true line of 
draft when these unequal conditions are encountered. 









g c 






Disk Plows 

THE disk plow has altogether a different effect upon 
the ground than the mouldboard plow. The mould- 
board plow turns the earth with a crunching, pinching, 
pulverizing motion while the disk plow turns the earth 
with a rolling motion. Naturally the earth turned with 
a disk plow will have more clods and larger ones than 
when turned with a mouldboard plow. The scrapers 
aid the disks very materially in covering trash and reduc- 
ing the size of the clods. 

Oftentimes ground becomes too dry to be successfully 
turned with a mouldboard plow. Primarily the disk 
plow was designed for turning soils in this dry, hard 
condition. It becomes apparent at once that such a 
plow can be used to good advantage in localities where 
fall sown crops are to be planted and the summer rain- 
fall is apt to be scant. The rolling motion of the disk 
turning the furrow leaves the ground in a looser condi- 
tion than a mouldboard plow, hence it better absorbs 
the rainfall that may come before the time of planting. 
For this reason there are plenty of farms on which both 
disk and mouldboard plows can be profitably operated 
in the season better adapted to their use. 

The disk plows are in common use in gumbo, hardpan 
and black waxy soils where mouldboard plows will not 


A disk plow can be set to work in any type of soil but 
wherever a mouldboard plow operates it is better to use 
a mouldboard plow because it does a superior quality of 
pulverizing. The disk plow will not turn so good a 
furrow in a light sandy soil as a mouldboard plow will, 
neither does it work so well as a mouldboard plow in 
plowing weedy stubblefields or grasslands where mould- 
board plows scour. 

Dry plowing has been interesting farmers a great deal. 
The conclusion reached from the plowing of dry ground 
in the hot summer is that the evaporation of moisture 
from the sub-soil is greatly lessened and the land derives 
much greater benefit from driving rains. That is, more 
of the rainfall sinks into the ground. The weeds also 
get an earlier start, providing there is sufficient moisture 
in the ground, thus giving a better opportunity to kill 
them with a disk before sowing time. Earlier sow- 
ing also results. This has proved to be of special 
benefit in those localities where it is necessary for 
the crop to have a good start before the winter's 
freezing sets in. It has been proven many times that 
dry plowing immediately following the harvest is the 
means whereby a crop is made possible where other- 
wise none could be grown. This dry condition nearly 
always takes place on soil that cannot be plowed while 
hard and dry with a mouldboard plow. 

The disk plow will handle very gravelly soil where a 
mouldboard plow cannot work. The principal reason 
for this is that the disk plow does not cut so wide a 
furrow as the mouldboard. The gravel in these narrow 
furrows is separated with the rolling motion of the disk 
much more effectively than can be done with the crunch- 
ing, pulverizing action of the mouldboard. Another 



Tractor disk plow showing the way the disk plow turns the soil and 
also that a straight furrow can be turned with one of these implements. 

advantage of the disk plow in this type of plowing is 
that when it is desired to do deep plowing better results 
can be secured by having each disk cut a narrow slice. 


Three disks equally spaced to cut 24" wide will naturally 
do better work than two disks spaced to cut 24" wide. 

Many insect pests of which the grasshopper is the 
most common can be successfully fought with the disk 
plow because of its qualities for turning hard ground. 
It is a well known fact that grasshoppers lay their eggs 
in nothing but hard ground. Infested fields will produce 
grasshoppers the next year unless something is done to 
prevent such a calamity. Whether or not a farmer expects 
to plow the infested field in the fall he can very greatly 
diminish the crop of grasshoppers the following year if 
he will plow the preceding fall. There are plenty of sec- 
tions in the United States where farmers could use the 
disk plow earlier in the season for no other purpose than 
this and save themselves several times the price of the 
plow in the next crop. 

As to the draft required to pull a disk plow there is no 
evidence to show that it pulls any lighter than a mould- 
board plow which turns over the same volume of earth. 
Many people deceive themselves into thinking that a 
disk plow pulls lighter. The reason for this is probably 
because the disk plow does not cut quite so wide a furrow 
as the mouldboard plow. This characteristic gives the 
disk plow an advantage over the mouldboard plow in 
that whether one cuts a wide or narrow furrow with the 
disk it always does an equal quality of work, whereas a 
mouldboard that cuts either a wider or narrower furrow 
than the width intended decreases the quality of plow- 
ing. A too wide furrow leaves an unplowed strip and in 
a too narrow furrow the ground is not properly pulver- 

The disks are sharp and placed on the frame so that 
they present a cutting edge to the soil very similar to 


that of a knife blade when one whittles a stick. The 
disk has the advantage over the knife blade in that the 
edge of the disk cutting the soil is constantly changing. 
For this reason the edge of a disk will retain its sharp- 
ness a great deal longer than the edge of a share. This 
fact very probably has a great deal to do with the 
superiority of this type of plow over the mouldboard 
plow in exceedingly hard ground. 

The principle of the draft of a disk plow is entirely 
different from that of a mouldboard plow. The shape 
of the share and mouldboard of the mouldboard plow 
cause the bottom to be pulled into the ground. On the 
other hand a disk plow must be forced into the ground 
by weight and draft combined. 

In operating a disk plow the hitch in front should 
always be adjusted so as to keep the front of the plow in 
the ground and sufficient weight added to the rear to 
keep it in the ground at the desired depth. 

Notice the curved furrow wall and bottom and the way the earth is 
delivered as a turned furrow. It is entirely different from that of a 
mouldboard plow. 



This book is due on the last date stamped below, or 

on the date to which renewed. 
Renewed books are subject to immediate recall. 



FEB 2 1959 

LD 21A-50m-9 '58 

General Library 

University of California